Corporate wellness can be defined as an employer led initiative to promote the health
and wellbeing of its employees. The goal is to lower employee healthcare costs through
programs that help prevent accidents and the development and/or progression of diseases.
If you arrived at the office
this morning to find your boss on the carpet in a lotus position and the vending
machine dispensing Kashi bars instead of Cheetos then you may be the latest “victim”
of a corporate wellness takeover. No need to fear, however, as it can actually be
good for you (or your employees if you are the boss).
Altruistic motives aside, the cold truth is that your employer is betting that a
healthier you will be a more productive you and save them money; specifically by
reducing your days of sick leave and the money they pay out for medical and disability
costs. Corporate wellness stems from a philosophy of prevention – it is cheaper
to keep employees healthy than to make them healthy again. The importance of this
for any business (regardless of whether you are an employer or employee) cannot
be understated. But is there really any hard data to prove that wellness programs
help a business’ bottom line?
First, it is important to understand that not all corporate wellness programs are
created equal. A good corporate wellness program must promote change at the individual
level as well as at the operational and corporate level. Participants must be engaged
through education, effective communication and follow-up on topics such as nutrition,
stress management, and fitness and exercise.
This requires an organizational culture of wellness with programs tailormade to
each employee’s particular needs and circumstances. If not, don’t be surprised to
see some of your co-workers head out the service entrance, scramble over the 12
foot razor-tipped containment fence, and sprint across the four-lane highway to
the nearest convenience store for their Cheetos.
ultiple studies have shown a relationship between employee health and business productivity.
One six year study by Goetzel RZ, Anderson DR, Whitmer W, Ozminkowski RJ, Dunn RL
found that risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, alcohol consumption,
diet and stress were responsible for 25 percent of a organization’s employee healthcare
costs.1 Through the implementation of effective wellness programs, Dow
1 Goetzel RZ, Anderson DR, Whitmer W, Ozminkowski RJ, Dunn RL, et al.
1998. The relationship between modifi able health risks and health care expend itures:
an analysis of the multi-employer HERO health risk and cost database. J. Occup.
Environ. Med. 4:843–57
Chemical Company reported savings of more than $3 million USD (approx. €2.3 million
Euros) in 2008, in the United States alone.21 Is it any wonder then that businesses
are wising up to the fact that they must take their employee’s wellbeing seriously
if they expect to remain competitive well into the 21st century? Testament to this
awakening is the increasing acceptance of wellness programs by CEO’s and business
leaders looking to maximize employee efficiency and lower business costs. A 2010
global survey by Towers Watson concludes that “Wellness will be a major focus for
employers and insurers in the future as a vital tool to mitigate medical trend increases.”
So if your next business meeting starts with pretzel-like yoga stretches, oriental
wind chimes and a steaming cup of green tea, don’t fret; you are contributing to
your company’s bottom line and becoming healthier to boot (at least until your chiropractor
2 The Health and Productivity Advantage 2009/2010 Staying@Work Report
originally published by
Watson Wyatt Worldwide
3 Towers and Watson 2011 Global Medical Trends Survey Report
A good corporate wellness program must promote change at the individual level as
well as at the operational and corporate level. Participants must be engaged through
education, effective communication and followup on topics such as nutrition, stress
management, and fitness and exercise.
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