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Health and Wellness on the Job

Aug 18, 2008
Work can be stressful at the best of times, so longer hours on the job often mean more stress and, as a result, more work-related injuries. These can include muscle and joint pain resulting from long hours sitting in the same position, repetitive strain injuries from performing (as the name suggests) repetitive tasks, work errors due to stress and fatigue, and illnesses aggravated by stress, including physical problems such as colds and flus and mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

Health-care professionals report most of their patient visits are stress-related - some estimates are as high as 80 percent.

A March 2004 Ipsos-Reid study indicated that the most preventable reasons for employee absenteeism were:
1. depression/anxiety/other mental health disorders
2. negative relationships with supervisor
3. co-worker conflict in the workplace

Employee Assistance Programs: The Rescue Plan
Over 10 years of research on employee health and wellness programs support these programs as a cost-effective solution. Employee absenteeism is reduced, Worker's Compensation Board claims are fewer, health insurance costs go down, and companies experience increased productivity and performance from their employees. For example:

Coca Cola reported saving $500 each year for every employee who participated in a company fitness program.
Coors Brewing Co. reported a 550% return for every dollar invested in their corporate wellness program, and absenteeism among participating employees decreased by 18%.

Prudential Insurance Company reported that the cost of benefits per employee who participated in their program was $312. For those who didn't, the cost was $574.

Where Do I Sign Up?
If your company does not have an employee wellness program already set up, you may be in the position to lead the way. If not, contact your human resources department or, if you have access, go straight to the top, your president or Chief Executive Officer. This could be the big idea that gets you that big promotion!

Bear in mind that quality wellness programs should educate employees on proper ergonomics, nutrition, stress management, and chronic pain management. In other words, they should cover all the bases of health and wellness.

Employee wellness provider Exan Wellness, has been studying wellness programs for years, designing the most cost-effective and results-effective employee health programming. Exan's combined approach of health promotion, health risk assessment, web portal, wellness literature, tele-workshops, cell groups and email and telephone access to a variety of health professionals, produces measurable changes in health risks and productivity. This is an approach that has been used around the world.

In a study published by the National Institute of Health, employees in a multinational corporation headquartered in the United Kingdom were presented with a multi-component health promotion program incorporating a health risk appraisal questionnaire, access to a tailored health improvement web portal, wellness literature, and seminars and workshops focused upon identified wellness issues. Improvements in all areas were measured.

"Mean excess reductions of 0.45 health risk factors and 0.36 monthly absenteeism days and a mean increase of 0.79 on the work performance scale were observed in the intervention group compared with the control group. The intervention yielded a positive return on investment, even using conservative assumptions about effect size estimation," reports the study.
About the Author
Exan Wellness, Inc. is a provider of corporate wellness programs that maximize the efficiency of internet tools with personal health coaching and worksite programs. http://www.exanwellness.com
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