How Wellness Programs Affect Productivity

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Traditionally, wellness programs have been touted as a way to lower the cost of health insurance for companies and to reduce employee absenteeism. One study showed that for each dollar a company spends for wellness, it saves $3.27 in healthcare costs and $2.73 in absenteeism costs.

However, recent research has found a definite causal connection between wellness programs, profits and worker productivity, the first of its kind to do so.

The Research

The research looked at the health and productivity of more than 100 people who worked at laundry facilities in the Midwest over a three-year time frame. It compared people who participated in wellness programs and people who did not.

Wellness programs generally offer such things as health screenings, fitness programs, nutrition education, and education about a range of issues, such as work-life balance, stress reduction, and quitting smoking.

Those who participated in the wellness program were given information about their particular health situation, along with recommendations for what they could to do improve their health. About two-thirds of the people in the research had some kind of health problem at the outset of the study.

How Much Productivity Increased

At the conclusion of the research, investigators looked at worker productivity along with medical records and found that those who participated in wellness programs increased their productivity by five percent. This is equal to one additional day of work per month.

Moreover, those who experienced an improvement in their overall health increased their productivity by 10 percent. Workers who exercised more and had a healthier diet had the largest increases in productivity, according to researchers.

The researchers identified two primary causes for the uptick in productivity. One is related to workers who had an undiagnosed medical condition. These people were grateful for the opportunity to receive a medical screening and treatment as part of the wellness program. This attitude in turn led to greater motivation, morale, and job satisfaction. The second cause is that workers who felt better both mentally and physically had increased energy and stamina.

This research offers more evidence of the connection between healthy employees and better job performance.

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