Most US employers offer workplace health promotion (WHP) programs, but many employees aren't aware of these programs, reports a study in the March Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).
Dr. Ron Goetzel of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed two national surveys regarding workplace wellness programs. The surveys provided perspectives from about 700 employers — mainly small- to medium-size companies — and 1,800 employees.
A disconnect between employers and employees
About 80 percent of employers said they offered some type of WHP program. In contrast, only 45 percent of workers reported having access to workplace wellness programs. Of employees who had access, 55 percent participated in WHP programs.
Most employees agreed that employers should play a role in improving worker health, and about two-thirds thought WHP participants should be offered lower insurance premiums. However, less than half of employees felt that their work environment allowed them to maintain good health.
The paired surveys provide unique insights at a time of tremendous growth in workplace wellness programs. More than three-fourths of employers with WHP programs reported positive effects such as improved worker health, increased productivity, and decreased health care costs.
"Both employers and employees see workplace wellness programs as positive, although far fewer employees than employers report having access to health promotion in the workplace," the researchers write. This discrepancy "highlights the need to improve strategic communications campaigns" promoting specific WHP programs and the "culture of health" behind them.
Dr. Goetzel and coauthors add, "Employees want greater employer involvement in workers' health and would welcome incentives for wellness program participation."
Citation — McCleary K, Goetzel RZ, Roemer EC, Berko J, Kent K, De La Torre H. Employer and employee opinions about workplace health promotion (wellness) programs results of the 2015 Harris Poll Nielsen Survey. J Occup Environ Med. 2017;59(3):256-63. Free access at: http://journals.lww.com/joem/Fulltext/2017/03000/Employer_and_Employee_Opinions_About_Workplace.4.aspx.
About ACOEM — ACOEM (www.acoem.org), an international society of 4,500 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.
About the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine — The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.joem.org) is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.
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