The workplace is an important setting for health protection, health promotion and disease prevention programs. On average, Americans working full-time spend more than one-third of their day, five days per week at the workplace.
While employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace, they also have abundant opportunities to promote individual health and foster a healthy work environment for more than 139 million workers in the United States (Accessed US Bureau of Labor Statistics March 14, 2011).
The use of effective workplace programs and policies can reduce health risks and improve the quality of life for American workers.
Maintaining a healthier workforce can lower direct costs such as insurance premiums and worker’s compensation claims. It will also positively impact many indirect costs such as absenteeism and worker productivity.1, 2
To improve the health of their employees, businesses can create a wellness cultureThe creation of a working environment where employee health and safety is valued, supported and promoted through workplace health programs, policies, benefits, and environmental supports. Building a Culture of Health involves all levels of the organization and establishes the workplace health program as a routine part of business operations aligned with overall business goals. The results of this culture change include engaged and empowered employees, an impact on health care costs, and improved worker productivity. that is employee-centered; provides supportive environments where safety is ensured and health can emerge; and provides access and opportunities for their employers to engage in a variety of workplace health programs.
What are workplace health programs
Workplace health programsA coordinated and comprehensive set of strategies which include programs, policies, benefits, environmental supports, and links to the surrounding community designed to meet the health and safety needs of all employees. refer to a coordinated and comprehensive set of strategies which include programs, policies, benefits, environmental supports, and links to the surrounding community designed to meet the health and safety needs of all employees.
Examples of workplace health program components and strategies include:
- Health education classes
- Access to local fitness facilities
- Company policies that promote healthy behaviors such as a tobacco-free campus policy
- Employee health insurance coverage for appropriate preventive screenings
- A healthy work environment created through actions such as making healthy foods available and accessible through vending machines or cafeterias
- A work environment free of recognized health and safety threats with a means to identify and address new problems as they arise
Impact of workplace health programs
Workplace health programs can lead to change at both the individual (i.e., employee) and the organization levels.
For organizations, workplace health programs have the potential to impact areas such as health care costs, absenteeism, productivity, recruitement/retention, culture and employee morale.
Employers, workers, their families and communities all benefit from the prevention of disease and injury and from sustained health.