Why Worksite Wellness Programs are Important

The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s Healthy Business Bloomington recognition program was created to support the development and expansion of organizational policies conducive to healthier employee lifestyles.  Each week more businesses are showing interest and the program is growing in popularity at an incredible rate but this raises an important question – why?  Why are worksite wellness programs important and what’s in it for the employer?!

For the last half of a decade, healthcare costs and spending has been increasing at an incredible rate.  Healthcare spending doubles every 10 years!  If this trend continues one could expect many small businesses to fold due to their decreasing margin of profit associated with increased healthcare costs.  Fortunately, worksite wellness programs can step in here and prevent that from happening.  Nearly 75% of medical costs (about 1.8 trillion dollars/year) are caused by chronic diseases – like heart attacks, stroke, cancer, diabetes and arthritis.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases are… “among the most common, costly and preventable of all health problems in the U.S.”

Worksite Wellness Programs work by promoting a behavioral, cultural and environmental change for the employee and business. Since chronic diseases are caused by modifiable risk behaviors, these programs greatly decrease the risk of attaining these costly morbidities by providing the means for employees to change their unhealthy behaviors and attain and sustain a healthier lifestyle.

Why is a worksite an ideal place to address employee health?

Worksite settings provide controlled environments where most people spend the majority of their day and build many of their social networks.  It is also the root cause of many morbidities and healthcare costs due to the fact that many workplace environments are often sedentary settings and therefore greatly contribute to the lack of physical activity that many Americans struggle with.  Worksite settings are often contributors to the ill health of their employees by housing environmental factors that support unhealthy lifestyle choices (like exposing their employees to unlimited access of energy-dense food and beverage from vending machines).
Worksite wellness programs attack these issues head on by using these controlled environments and social networks to their advantage.  By starting with the upper management and supervisors, a trickle-down effect occurs in promoting healthier lifestyles and behavioral choices.  Worksite wellness programs work by turning the worksite/office setting from being a negative influence on employee health to a positive influence by promoting healthier lifestyle and behavioral choices through social influence and environmental support.

What are the advantages of workplace wellness programs?

+ On-the-job Productivity
+Employee Satisfaction
+ Recruitment & Retention of Employees
+ Productivity
+ Employee Relations & Morale
+ Return on Investment
-Health Care Costs
(employees come to work but can’t function properly due to illness)