The American Heart Association supports the implementation of comprehensive worksite wellness programs. Worksite wellness programs are effective in improving the health of the United States as a whole. With over 130 million Americans employed in the United States, this is an important population to target. Employees spend a large portion of their day at work, which further proves the need to provide healthy workplaces. Healthcare costs are rising, and chronic diseases that can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle are major players in the cost increases. Rising healthcare costs also impact employers, especially those with employees with chronic diseases. More and more profits made are spent on employees with excess health risks. Poor health of employees harms the company through increased health care plan costs, loss of productivity, and higher rates of absenteeism, injury and disability. Getting employees to improve their health and reduce the risk will save the company money. Worksite wellness programs can also attract exceptional employees, enhance morale and commitment, and reduce turnover. Lastly, rate of return on investment for most worksite wellness programs ranges from $3 to $15 for each dollar invested, with savings realized after year one.1
Indirect costs to employers resulting from poor health of employees can have higher costs than direct medical costs. Productivity losses due to poor health of the person or a member of his or her family cost U.S. employers $1,685 per employee per year or $225.8 billion annually. Worksite wellness programs can help improve the health of the nation and reduce healthcare costs. Worksite wellness programs have the potential to promote healthy behavior, establish health policies, and reduce disease and injury.2
It is essential to address not only high cost groups (i.e. diabetes and heart disease) but also at risk groups who have modifiable risk factors such as obesity, low physical activity, poor diet, and tobacco use that are associated with future chronic disease conditions that put them in the high cost group. The company should aim to manage the health risk of all employees whether high risk or low risk.
- American Heart Association. Position statement on effective worksite wellness programs. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_308067.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Comprehensive workplace health programs to address physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco use in the workplace. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/model/index.html