Since the beginning of time – Workplaces have been contributing to Illness – stressors on deadlines, product delivery, desk job physical inactivity, factory noise levels, and other job related activities that tax the body’s mental and physical abilities.
Current research suggests that when done right, Workplaces that implement both health promotion and disease prevention programs can improve employee health while reducing health care costs and increasing productivity and engagement.
One major issue facing all employers is preventable chronic disease (e.g diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity) where most of the health care costs are paid out. By implementing health promotion programs which address prevention, high-risk individuals, and disease management employers can have a positive influence on health behaviors.
The three tiers for a successful program include:
Primary Prevention – preventing illness or disease from occurring(stress mgmt, anti-smoking campaigns, physical challenges)
Secondary Prevention – directed to high-risk individuals (smoking cessation, weight mgmt, easy access to medication)
Tertiary Prevention – disease management for existing conditions (access to diabetes medication, counseling/therapy)
Workplace Wellness programs, according to the CDC’s Community Preventive Services Task Force work by influencing positive health behaviors, improving biometric measures – blood pressure & cholesterol, and financial outlay. A recent meta-analysis indicated that people who participated in an employer’s well-defined health promotion program had 25% lower medical and absentee expenditures than did their non-participant colleagues.
The key for any health & wellness promotion program is that they are designed with best practice principles, implemented across the organization, have support from all levels, and utilize evaluation methods while the program is running.