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Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

By Lane Report Staff

May is Employee Health and Fitness Month to promote the benefits of workplace wellness to employers and employees. The best way for companies to emphasize the importance of healthy lifestyles is to establish an employee wellness program. It can contribute to a company’s bottom line.

It takes structure and employees’ participation, but these proactive programs can prevent or reduce health issues and educate employees to overcome health risks, including the two biggest: smoking and obesity. An effective program equips participants with knowledge and tips to manage stress, eat well, lose weight, exercise properly and more.

According to the Harvard Business Review, a study by Drs. Richard Milani and Carl Lavie found 57 percent of participants were converted to “low-risk status” after only a six-month wellness program.

“Wellness programs help employees understand that they are ultimately responsible for their individual health,” explains Maggie Thorison, Wellness Manager for TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization. “Many employees are literally changing their lives through wellness programs.”

Chronic diseases, obesity and other preventable health concerns cost businesses from thousands to many millions of dollars each year.  The website Healthcare.gov explains, “The indirect costs of poor health – including absenteeism, disability and reduced work output – may be several times higher than direct medical costs. Productivity losses related to personal and family health problems cost U.S. employers $1,685 per employee per year, or $225.8 billion annually.”

The financial impact of employee wellness programs can vary, but according to a February 2010 article in Health Affairs, company medical costs fall an average of $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, and absenteeism costs decrease $2.73 for each dollar used. Implementing an effective wellness program can help boost an organization’s productivity and rein in their healthcare costs.

TOPS explains the impact of workplace wellness and offers lots of tips for a successful program at tops.org/WellnessBlog. Maybe this Employee Health and Fitness Month can be the beginning of a healthier operation at your company.