Work Wellness

If the 1980's/1990's were the decade of the "fitness boom" and increasing personal awareness of health, then 2000 is the decade of the "corporate health boom". A recent survey of 900 companies showed that health promotion is now the fastest growing employee benefit. Health promotion has been catapulted into prominence by the "discovery" of the concept of wellness - the idea that health is not just the absence of illness, but a high level of energy, decreased risk of early death or disability, and a commitment to achieving the highest possible state of physical and emotional well-being.

  • People with bad health habits are 86% more likely to miss work and 100% more likely to limit the amount of work they do.
  • Smokers have 25% higher health care costs, 114% more hospital days and 33-45% excess absenteeism, than nonsmokers.
  • Stress is implicated as a causative factor in 50-80% of all illnesses.
  • People who have high blood pressure have 112% higher health care claims than people who do not.
  • People who don’t exercise have 36% higher health care costs and 54% longer hospital stays, than people who do.
  • People who are overweight have 7% higher health care costs and 85% longer hospital stays than people who are not.
  • Stress related conditions cost Canadian businesses an estimated 2.5 billion dollars a year in lost productivity annually.

Recently, many progressive and profitable businesses, medical and educational institutions have realized that most of the costs they are absorbing due to lifestyle factors of their employees is preventable and, therefore have embarked on proven cost effective wellness programs for their employees.

Over 6,000 major corporations and institutions in both Canada and the United States have implemented wellness programs. The potential benefits from the implementation of the wellness program are both diverse and far-reaching. Depending upon the extent of an individual program, the following benefits can be expected:

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Decreased turnover
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased health awareness
  • Reduced morbidity
  • Positive attitude toward employment
  • Reduced disability
  • Reduced health insurance cost
  • Reduced health service cost
  • Extended employee work years
  • Reduced early mortality, and
  • Overall improved quality of life