Employee Wellness Programs, Do They Work?

We all know what we should do to take better care of ourselves — eat healthier, exercise more, reduce stress (good luck on that last one). Employee wellness programs aim to get workers practicing better self care, but are they actually effective? And in the long run will they save companies, agencies or government entities money on health care benefits and reduced sick days?

If one goal of health care reform is to promote wellness, when and how will implementation of such programs be mandated?

The Kitsap Sun is doing an article on the effectiveness of employee wellness programs. We hope you’ll take part in our online survey. Click here to take survey.

Also, let us know if your company has some innovative ideas on promoting employee wellness.

If you have any questions about the story or about how your responses will be used, or if you’d like to comment on your company/agency’s employee wellness program, call reporter Chris Henry at (360) 792-9219, or e-mail chenry@kitsapsun.com.

Thanks for your help. Chris Henry, reporter

3 thoughts on “Employee Wellness Programs, Do They Work?

  1. Chris Henry, reporter says: “We all know what we should do to take better care of ourselves — eat healthier, exercise more, reduce stress (good luck on that last one). Employee wellness programs aim to get workers practicing better self care, but are they actually effective?”

    Me, patient says:
    If the velvet gloves are removed and employees are SHOWN (get patient volunteers) examples of life with different medical conditions caused by -smoking is one example- I’d guess a good percent of the present or wannabe employees might well change personal habits to reflect self preservation and to keep a good job.

    If I had a small business and included paid medical insurance for my employees, I would have a checklist for prospective employees to answer and incentives for present employees to get in the fitness lineup.

    When I did have a small business I didn’t offer medical care insurance.

    Blunt words and visual frankness works.

    Years ago a good friend and 30 year smoker read a Reader’s Digest article showing photos of healthy lungs next to a chronic smoker lungs. My friend told me he felt sickened and stopped smoking immediately. He also showed me the article, yet I went on to smoke another 20 years or so.

    Obesity is a despised condition by seemingly everyone, yet the productivity of an obese person can be double the effectiveness to the business of a ‘normal’ sized person.

    I once had someone tell me I needed to get rid of one of my employees because her appearance didn’t reflect well on my business.

    Why not?

    She was fat…way fat…obese…really and truly a genuine tubbyette.

    I told him I couldn’t. For one thing I liked her and she had worked for and with me too many years, since she finished school. She had also become the most productive employee I had.

    The day came when she asked for another raise. She was at capacity. She was well worth a raise, no issue there. The trouble is the way my pay scale worked I couldn’t give her one without losing money.

    And so, to give her a well deserved raise, I figured out new prices to her clients and I became a business with two price tiers and cost percentages within the tiers.

    The reason for this little story is twofold.

    1. Look beyond appearances.

    2. Knowing what I know today about health issues, I would never have hired her based on her unhealthy size and lost out on getting to know a remarkable, artistically talented, kind, thoughtful individual. She became family.
    Sharon O’Hara

  2. I found Sharon’s input interesting, but most companies install wellness programs not to improve the appearance of their employees, but to: 1) reduce employee healthcare costs 2) improve employee health 3) increase productivity 4) increase employees’ satisfaction with their job.

    While it’s true that an unhealthy (obese, smoker) person can be much more productive than a healthier (skinny, doesn’t smoke) person, studies have shown that wellness programs can lower the amount of stress/sick days at work, which will generally lead to a happier workforce. This should lead to a more productive workforce and might justify the cost of the program, regardless of whether the company provides healthcare for its employees.

  3. Wellness programs most definitely work – if they are designed and implemented correctly. Large and medium sized employers have little or no problems finding good wellness programs. Small employers (less than 100 employees) have a very difficult time finding good wellness programs. There simply is not a national wellness providers that’s able to adequately manage small employers. Maybe one day that will change.

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