Guide to starting a workplace wellness program
On average, Americans working full-time spend more than one-third of their day, five days per week at the workplace. The use of effective workplace programs and policies can reduce health risks and improve the quality of life for American workers.
The Work@Health® employer-training program is an initiative of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote workplace wellness. The program provides employer education, training, and technical assistance. The program partners with trade associations, business coalitions, and health departments that support employer workplace health efforts. Professional instructors undergo a rigorous certification process to deliver the training.
Having a healthier workforce benefits individual employees and yields greater productivity and lower healthcare and workers’ compensation costs for employers.
Work@Health® Advance, launched in 2015, provides advanced training and technical assistance to employers who have completed the Work@Health® basic program. The first phase of the program focuses on the most important workplace health concepts and principles. The next phase focuses on sustainability by reinforcing key principles and providing more advanced technical assistance.
Work@Health® uses web-based training and in-person training labs to deliver content. A team of quality instructors, facilitators, and subject-matter experts provides ongoing technical assistance. They support both program graduates and new participants.
Key Components of Work@Health®
- The Employer Core Training Program combines web-based and in-person training by certified trainers. It uses a science-based employer training curricula.
- The Advance Technical Assistance Program is for employers who have completed their Work@Health® Core training. The program provides one-on-one support, a customized technical assistance plan, and assistance reaching third-party accreditation/ recognition.
- The Work@Health® Training and Technical Assistance Portal (TTAP) is a web-based Web portal where employers can access Work@Health® tools, information, and technical assistance from top experts in the field. TTAP is an online information sharing platform for Work@Health Technical Assistance. It allows providers and employers to enhance their collaboration and ongoing learning. Meanwhile, it assists them in sustaining and replicating successful worksite health and wellness best practices.
- The Train-the-Trainer Program prepares new certified trainers who will collectively provide comprehensive core training to employers in their communities.
- The Master Trainer Program serves a select group of certified trainers. It enables them to train other Train-the-Trainers or become Technical Assistance Providers.
- Collaboration with regional and national stakeholder organizations that support employee health and wellness issues.
In order to qualify for Work@Health® training, employers must meet the following criteria:
- Must have headquarters in the United States
- Must employ at least twenty employees
- Must provide health insurance
Work@Health® Employer Training Content
The curricula covers a number of foundational and core workplace health principles including:
- Why having a workplace wellness program makes good business sense
- How to assess the workplace health needs of organizations
- How to plan, implement, and create an environment that supports science-based workplace health programs, policies, and practices that provide a great return on investment
- How to know if your workplace health and wellness program is working and how to continuously improve its quality
- How to develop and leverage partnerships, community links, and resources to support workplace health
- Increase awareness of the benefits to employers. Also highlight the necessary skills for effective workplace training and expand the number of sites with science-based workplace health programs.
- Create a highly trained corps of instructors, coaches and trainers who can train and support employers who are developing, implementing, or improving worksite wellness programs.
- Increase employers’ knowledge and skills of workplace health program concepts and principles.
- Improve employer capacity for developing, expanding and sustaining workplace health programs by providing technical assistance, tools, and resources that can support them.
- Promote peer-to-peer, community-based cooperation and mentoring among employers.
Workplace Wellness: A Health and Economic Benefit
Chronic diseases create high costs in the health and quality of life of workers and their families. Financial costs to employers and employees are high too. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey of 2010, the latest year for which figures are available, found the U.S. spends $1.219 trillion each year on medical costs. Of that total, 86 percent stems from chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, diabetes or obesity.
Productivity losses related to personal and family health problems cost U.S. employers more than $225 billion every year. And the indirect costs of poor health—including absenteeism, disability and reduced work output—are even higher. That’s why workplace health programs make good business sense.
By implementing science-based workplace wellness programs, employers can control their healthcare costs while improving America’s overall health. Workplace health programs not only can improve workers’ health knowledge and skills. They also can promote healthy behaviors, like having regular health screenings, immunizations, and follow-up care. Creating a culture of healthier behaviors at work can also expand into other areas of employees’ lives.