Employee wellness programs reduce worker absences

Over time, private industry leaders have debated whether employee wellness programs actually have had an impact on productivity, or even on worker health. Health plans and providers, in turn, haven't invested heavily in this approach, well aware of how employee wellness programs look at the moment.

However, new research may add weight to notion that employee wellness programs can actually promote major changes in employee behavior and health. A new study concludes that at least one large-scale work site wellness program actually fostered meaningful changes, including a drop in employee absenteeism.

To measure the benefits of wellness programs, researchers with Emory University Rollins School of Public Health studied weight management programs put in place at 12 Dow Chemical work sites between 2006 and 2007. At five of the sites, employees received intensive interventions; four site received moderate interventions, and three sites implemented the company's standard programs.

Employee absenteeism fell from 3.9 days in 2006 to 3.4 days in 2007, researchers found. Meanwhile, between 2006 and 2007, average absenteeism at moderate/intense sites was 1.5 days lower than at standard sites. Dow saved about $414.90 per employee per year.

To learn more about this program:
- read this UPI story

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