A recent study indicates that employees who participate in workplace wellness programs are more satisfied with their jobs, more likely to remain with the company long term, and more likely to recommend the company as an employer to a friend or family member, according to a press release from Maritz, the sales and marketing services company that conducted the study.

Results of the poll also demonstrated a relationship between the level of participation in a wellness program and absenteeism at work. Respondents indicating regular, once-a-week participation in a wellness program took significantly less sick time than those choosing to never participate, according to the release. Even those with sporadic participation (once a month, a few times a year, once a year) in wellness programs had better work attendance records than workers who did not participate at all.

Despite a seven percent increase in formal corporate wellness programs since Maritz conducted a similar survey in 2006, the company found that the frequency of participation in these programs among respondents to the two surveys was virtually unchanged. Study results indicated that program participation was higher when workers were offered an incentive to participate. Twenty-three percent of respondents who were offered a reward for achieving specific health goals indicated that they participate once a week. This rate decreased to 16 percent among those who were not offered an incentive. Similarly, non-participation is 36 percent when no reward is offered, yet drops to only 21 percent when an incentive is present, the release said.

“Wellness programs clearly benefit employees and employers,” said Mindy McGrath, vice president of strategy for Maritz’ health care sector. “The programs are associated with increased individual health, productivity and engagement, which lead to reduced lost work time and lower health care premiums. However, these programs are of little value to either side if people don’t participate.”