At a time when the U.S. unemployment rate hovers around nine percent and tens of millions of Americans are looking for work, it seems like a luxury to be talking about wellness programs in the workplace…or is it?
The National Institutes of Health estimates health care expenses and lost workplace productivity costs are more than 260-billion dollars a year in the U.S. So while some might argue that wellness programs are a nice, seemingly expensive perk, healthy employees appear to offset the price tag with reduced health care costs, while undeniably helping to boost morale.
Over the next two days, I’ll be attending the American Cancer Society’s Corporate Impact Conference in Minneapolis. I’m expecting to hear a lot about the different ways to decrease health risks and costs through smoking cessation programs, weight management and nutrition classes, and exercise and chronic disease prevention including cancer screenings.
Emotional health issues and stress management will also be on the agenda. Stress, especially job induced stress, and depression account for a large portion of lost work time.
I’ve been fortunate over the years to work for several organizations that can afford to invest in wellness programs for their employees. In my experience, the initiatives not only go a long way toward improving a worker’s quality of life, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the programs can positively impact a company’s bottom line.