Boss’s orders: Get healthy

Companies today recognize the link between workplace wellness and productivity. Healthier employees are more focused, have fewer accidents, and are less likely to miss work. Research shows that workplace wellness programs provide corporate cost savings by reducing absenteeism and medical costs. Here are some areas of focus:


Repetitive motion injuries can make your job a real pain — literally! According to the National Institutes of Health, the lifetime cost of carpal tunnel is approximately $30,000 per person. And employees with back problems rack up significantly more health care costs than their pain-free coworkers.

Orthopedic specialists can provide ergonomic recommendations for work stations and common workplace tasks. Or, host training sessions and teach employees to be smarter about how they work, with frequent stretches and proper posture.

Smoking cessation
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. In fact, life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than nonsmokers.

According to the American Cancer Society, for every employee who smokes, your business incurs nearly $3,800 in excess health care costs and lost productivity annually. Studies show that more than 70 percent of smokers want to quit. Give your employees some extra help and increase their chances of quitting for good.

Stress reduction
People who experience chronic stress have an elevated risk of heart disease. Stress damages your immune response, your memory, your brain function, and even your motor skills — all of which is bad news for employers.

Talk to your local health care provider about stress reduction classes and information sessions. Or consider a total wellness program that includes flexible work and other work-life benefits to help employees cope.

Diet and exercise
According to the CDC, just a 1 percent reduction in the following risk factors excess weight, elevated blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol has been shown to save $83-103 annually in medical costs per person. And that doesn’t even include productivity savings!

Encourage employees to stay active. Regular exercise can help people prevent a wide range of health problems, including stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Exercise also increases energy levels and helps ward off depression.

Consider your options for boosting employee fitness. Can you arrange for a corporate discount at the local Y? What about a weekly yoga class in a conference room? Or shower facilities so employees can bike to work or run during a lunch break? 

Next, help employees make better choices about what to eat. Some organizations are banning donuts in meetings or revamping the contents of company vending machines. Others are subsidizing healthy food in the cafeteria or putting out bowls of fresh fruit in the break room.

The CDC developed the National Healthy Worksite Program and the Work@Health programs to help employers boost their workplace wellness efforts.