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July 13, 2023

Prioritize workplace wellness for healthier, more productive employees

Smiling nutritionist

Preventing injuries through workplace safety programs protects employees and saves the company money. However, employees’ health is affected by more than just their work environment. Incorporating wellness into your safety program helps account for a wider range of aspects that affect your employees’ health and safety.

The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. While health can look different to everyone, it generally involves items such as being physically active, eating a nutritious diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and controlling stress. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthier employees are more productive and less likely to become sick, resulting in less time away from work. A study published in the Journal of Mental Health and Physical Activity also found that healthy individuals are more alert and able to respond more quickly to unexpected events. This means they’re less likely to suffer an injury than unhealthy individuals.
Employers can benefit from having healthier employees by implementing a wellness program. Wellness programs consider an employee’s well-being in a more holistic way. While there’s no one size fits all solution, wellness programs generally offer health education and support for employees to make positive lifestyle choices in their personal and professional lives.
Employers who implement workplace wellness programs will see benefits such as lower insurance costs, happier employees and increased productivity. In fact, a Harvard University study estimates that for every $1 you spend on wellness, you can get about $3 in savings on health-related costs. 

4 reasons to create a company wellness program:

1. Reduce workers' compensation costs. An employee’s overall health is impacted by aspects of their work environment as well as lifestyle factors outside of employment. Employees bring their level of physical and mental well-being to work with them each day. A research team completed a meta-evaluation of studies on the effectiveness of wellness programs and found that companies who adopted wellness programs averaged a 32% reduction in workers’ compensation and disability costs.
2. Lower employer health care costs. Healthier employees tend to visit the doctor less often and require less extensive medical care when they’re injured or sick. The RAND Wellness Programs Study found that workplace wellness programs with a disease management component, which targets intervention for employees who already have a chronic disease, reduced health care costs by about $136 per member each month, largely due to a 29% reduction in hospital admissions.  
3. Increase worker productivity. Have you ever experienced a day where you’re having trouble focusing on a task at work? The term “presenteeism” is becoming more widely used and it refers to lost productivity when an employee is physically present at work, but too sick, fatigued or distracted to focus. A study from Brigham Young University found that employees with healthy eating habits were 25% more likely to have higher productivity than those that didn’t practice healthy eating habits. Additionally, employees who exercised three times per week were 15% more likely to have better job performance. 
4. Prevent employee absenteeism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, five chronic diseases and risk factors cost U.S. employers over $36 billion per year. This cost is related to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity and smoking. You can help employees fight these diseases and risks with a disease management component in your wellness program.
Employers can help integrate wellness into employee’s lives by creating a healthy environment and providing health education. Consider steps such as supplying healthy snacks, leading stretch and fitness breaks throughout the day and even providing nutrition or fitness classes. Offering wellness programs to your employees helps you take care of your workforce and your bottom line.

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