Linking Employee and Organizational Health
Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Astrid M. Richardsen
Chapter 16: Corporate wellness programs: a summary of best practices and effectiveness
The previous chapters make it apparent that workplace wellness programs are popular and widespread, and workplace health promotion is well established, especially in the United States. European countries lag behind in both providing programs and in evaluating such programs. More than 60 percent of Americans get their health insurance coverage through an employment-based plan (Baicker et al., 2010), and companies are therefore looking for ways to reduce healthcare costs and health insurance premiums. Sickness absence and poor health are also costing companies in terms of productivity losses and ultimately bottom line results. It has been estimated that as much as two-thirds of the US adult population are overweight, which is associated with a host of chronic health conditions (Goetzel et al., 2010). Also, the health of today’s workforce is changing – there is a higher percentage of older workers, and with increasing age comes increased risk and prevalence of chronic health conditions, associated with higher medical and workers’ compensation costs (Kelly and Carter, Chapter 9 this volume). Thus, investing in improving the health of workers can bring about significant cost reductions and increase organizational effectiveness. The increased interest in workplace wellness programs is reflected in statistics, especially for large employers. Baicker et al. (2010) reported that in 2006, 19 percent of companies with 500 or more employees reported offering wellness programs, and a survey of large manufacturing companies in 2008 indicated that 77 percent offered some form of health and wellness programs.
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