A new study touts the benefits of workplace wellness programs, singling out several Nebraska companies for creating opportunities for employees to get active. American Heart Association researcher Mercedes Carnethon says worksite wellness programs can include a host of elements.
Carnethon says, “The most frequent components are: tobacco cessation and prevention, regular physical activity, stress management and reduction, early detection and screening for heart disease and stroke risk factors, nutrition education and weight management.” She says more Nebraska companies are seeing the positive impact wellness programs can have on their employees — and on the bottom line.
“Healthier employees are more productive,” Carnethon says. “Absenteeism is decreased. Presenteeism — the dreaded situation where the sick employee comes to work and spreads their illness to everybody — presenteeism goes down as well and so there are substantial cost savings from a productivity standpoint.” The study found heart disease costs the nation’s businesses 24-billion dollars a year in lost productivity.
Carnethon says wellness programs can attract exceptional employees while enhancing productivity and morale. “For every dollar spent on health and wellness, companies can save between three and 15-dollars,” Carnethon says. “Those savings are evident fairly immediately within 12 to 18 months of implementing a program.” She says several Nebraska companies are mentioned in the report, including Bryan L-G-H Medical Center in Lincoln and Woodmen of the World Life Insurance in Omaha.
ConAgra Foods in Omaha offers on-site personal training so employees can develop physical fitness strategies that work best for them. The Fremont Area Medical Center in Fremont provides group exercise classses, healthier choices in vending machines and nearby walking paths. Other Nebraska companies earning kudos for wellness programs include: Square D by Schneider Electric in Lincoln, Duncan Aviation in Lincoln, First National Bank in Omaha and Creighton University Medical Center.
Lincoln Industries has wellness programs that have reached 100% participation with the side effect being a decrease in employee turnover. She says, “visionary employers who offer worksite wellness programs experience benefits in healthier and more engaged workers.”
Carnethon is the lead author of the study being published this week in “Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.” She is a professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University and is the American Heart Association Fellow on the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention. For more information, visit: www.startwalkingnow.org.