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Making the Business Case

Evidence shows that integration of worker safety and health protection with health promotion will be a key strategy for building a strong economy on the foundation of safe jobs and healthy workers.

Why Do I Need to Integrate Health Protection and Health Promotion?

Integrated health protection and health promotion measures could have significant, long-term impact on your bottom line and the nation’s workforce. An emerging body of evidence recognizes that work-related factors and health factors beyond the workplace jointly contribute to many safety and health problems that confront today’s workers and their families. A growing body of science supports the effectiveness of combining these efforts through workplace interventions that integrate health protection and health promotion.

calculator and stack of cash

An integrated approach can...

  • ... Improve effectiveness of health protection and health promotion programs.
  • In a study of tobacco use cessation for blue-collar hourly workers, the smoking quit rates of workers in integrated interventions were more than double that of workers who had participated only in worksite health promotion programs.1
  • ... Increase participation in worksite health promotion efforts.
  • Workers who reported that their employers had taken action to reduce workplace risks are more likely to participate in a worksite health promotion program.2
  • ... Enhance a culture of trust and increase employees’ receptivity to health behavior change.
  • Workers who feel that their employers are contributing toward a safe and healthy workplace may be more open to reducing their personal risk factors.3
  • ... Address synergistic risks.
  • Occupational and personal risk factors influence each other and may have compounded effects. An integrated approach is important to jointly address work-related hazards and health behavior related risks.3
  • ... Reduce sickness absence and improve return on investment.
  • One study in a manufacturing plant found that integrated interventions created greater reductions in sickness absence and key health risks, including ergonomic and cardiovascular risks and job stressors.4

How Can It Help My Business or Workplace?

“Today leading companies have learned that because of lost workdays and diminished employee productivity, poor health costs them
more than health benefits do.”

Porter, ME and Kramer MR. "Creating Shared Value."
Harvard Business Review 20115

Safe and healthy employees are less likely to be injured while on the job and are vibrant, engaged, and high performing.

Safer and Healthier Employees…

  • ... Are good for business and help improve the bottom line.
  • Companies that have exemplary safety, health, and environmental programs outperformed the S&P 500 by between 3% and 5%.6
  • ... Create a happier, less stressful, and more prosperous business environment.
  • According to a survey by Aon Hewitt, the National Business Group on Health, and the Futures Company, employees who reported having a strong culture of health at work were more likely to report being happy, less likely to report that stress has a negative impact on their work, and less likely to cite the work environment as an obstacle to health.7
  • ... Do better at their jobs and contribute more.
  • Employers that have high employee engagement performed better than employers with low employee engagement in profitability, customer ratings, turnover, safety incidents, productivity, and quality.8 Engagement includes feeling like someone at work cares about the employee as a person and having the materials needed to do work right.
  • ... Are absent from work less and more productive when at work.
  • For every dollar spent on worksite wellness programs, absentee day costs were reduced by $2.73, and medical costs were reduced by $3.27.9 Research on chronic conditions and productivity estimates that presenteeism causes 18-91 lost work days per year and absenteeism causes 1-10 lost work days per year. Presenteeism costs more than absenteeism and medical expenses combined.10
  • ... Enjoy their jobs more, reducing turnover costs.
  • Employees who feel supported by their employers are more likely to want to keep their jobs and will help attract and retain the best employees for the business. A study by the World Economic Forum found that 64% of employees who reported that their workplaces were active promoters of health intended to stay with their companies at least five years.11

Future Steps

Perhaps the most valuable action employers can take is to give workers more flexibility and control over their working conditions and schedules whenever it is possible. For many workers, greater flexibility is more important than having more vacation days. Great companies also provide onsite opportunities for healthier food, physical activity, stress management, health education, and health screenings. Designing policies that promote safe and healthy work spaces, fostering low-stress working conditions, and creating built environments that promote safety and health should all be top priorities if organizations want safer, healthier, happier workers.


  1. Sorensen G, Stoddard AM, LaMontagne AD, et. al. 2002. A comprehensive worksite cancer prevention intervention: behavior change results from a randomized controlled trial (United States). Cancer Causes and Control 13: 493–502.
  2. Sorensen G, Stoddard AM, Ockene JK, et. al. 1996. Worker participation in an integrated health promotion/health protection program: Results from the WellWorks project. Health Educ Quart 23(2):191-203.
  3. NIOSH. 2012. Research Compendium: The NIOSH Total Worker Health™ Program: Seminal Research Papers. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2012-146, 2012.
  4. Maes S, Verhoeven C, Kittel F, Scholten H. 1998. Effects of a Dutch Work-Site Wellness-Health Program: The Brabantia Project. American Journal of Public Health 88(7):1037-1041.
  5. Porter, Michael E., and Mark R. Kramer. 2011. Creating Shared Value. Harvard Business Review 89(1-2).
  6. Fabius R, Thayer R, Dixon BA, et al. 2013. The Link Between Workforce Health and Safety and the Health of the Bottom Line: Tracking Market Performance of Companies That Nurture a “Culture of Health.” JOEM 55(9):993-1000.
  7. Aon Hewitt, the National Business Group on Health, and the Futures Company. 2014. The Consumer Health Mindset. 
  8. Gallup. 2013. The Relationship between Engagement at Work and Organizational Outcomes. 
  9. Baicker K, Cutler D, Song Z. 2010. Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings. Health Affairs. 29(2):304-311.
  10. Fabius R. 2014. Productivity Impact of Worker Health Protection and Promotion. Workshop at Harvard School of Public Health training “Work, Health, and Well-being: Integrating Wellness and Occupational Health and Safety.”
  11. World Economic Forum. 2010. The Wellness Imperative: Creating More Effective Organizations. Geneva: World Economic Forum.
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  • Page last reviewed: April 18, 2014
  • Page last updated: April 18, 2014

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