Employee Wellness Programs Done Well

With healthcare costs rising and sick days costing employers as much as $225 billion a year in lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control, workplace wellness initiatives are frequently touted as an employee benefit that pays for itself.

A review of the topic, however, shows plenty of a debate on that point, and some complaints that much of the “evidence” has been compiled by those with a vested interest in promoting the benefits of such programs.

Still, few would question the idea that promoting fitness and healthy lifestyle choices could yield some bottom line benefits in the workplace. And when done well, workplace wellness initiatives are a welcome benefit, boosting employee health and your recruiting efforts at the same time.

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The Centers for Disease Control says
Productivity losses from missed work cost employers $225.8 billion, or $1,685 per employee, each year. Full-time workers who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health problems miss about 450 million more days of work each year than healthy workers. The result is an estimated cost of more than $153 billion in lost productivity each year. A 1% annual reduction in the level of four health risks—weight, blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol—has been shown to save $83 to $103 annually in medical costs per person.

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