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Study Shows Investing In Workplace Health Programs Pays Off For Employers

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One of the questions employers typically have when it comes to introducing a workplace health promotion program is whether it will benefit their bottom line. A new study has attached real numbers to the answer.

According to a study conducted by Minnesota-based OptumHealth and published in the October 2013 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (the official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine), employers can expect measurable gains in productivity from employees who participate in the program.

The researchers analyzed the impact on productivity from a program in which wellness coaches provided telephone support to help employees address health concerns or risks. The study looked at absenteeism as well as presenteeism – time spent at work with reduced productivity – in concluding the program led to significant improvements.

Compared to workers who did not participate in the program, workers added the equivalent of 10.3 hours in additional productive time per year. Savings averaged about $350 per participating employee, with that figure even higher for those who successfully improved their health or lowered risk in at least one area. The gain in productive time for a typical employee was 0.5 percent.

An estimated 25 to 30 percent of corporate medical costs relate to employees with major risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Research indicates positive change is more likely to occur when employers provide information on wellness and lifestyle change.

For more information about workplace health programs, please call Chad Clippard, business liaison, at 573-331-3019.