Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Employee wellness plans should include entire company, not just sick workers

29.09.2010
A study of employees at a west Michigan hospital showed some of the most unhealthy workers that University of Michigan researchers had ever seen.

But in four years, the workplace wellness plan at Allegiance Health in Jackson, Mich. had fueled some of the biggest improvements in employee health that those same researchers had ever witnessed.

The researchers were studying the hospital system to evaluate the health risk changes in employees in the four years after Allegiance implemented a workplace wellness program. The "It's Your Life" program was unique because it included all employees, not just unhealthy ones, said Douglas Wright, a researcher at the U-M School of Kinesiology Health Management Research Center, and lead study author.

Most wellness programs start with a health assessment and only the employees who meet pre-determined benchmarks of poor health qualify for additional assistance, Wright said.

It's Your Life began in 2002, and Allegiance offered employees $200, spread over 24 paychecks, to take a health risk appraisal, be screened, attend three counseling sessions and complete three health learning modules. In subsequent years, the company lowered the incentive to $190 but gave it to employees in the form of a gift card that was filled with small amounts of money each time the employee completed another requirement. Having immediate access to the money earned, rather than waiting for it to show up in a paycheck, appeared to be associated with increased participation.

Researchers collected data from three different employee groups based on the number of times each participated. Over four years, participation increased and the number of high risk employees decreased in all groups, Wright said. The yearly participation rate rose from 38 percent the first year to 77 percent by the fourth year. After four years, the four-time participants decreased in 10 of 15 health risks, the two-time participants decreased in nine of 15 risks, and the one-timers decreased in 12 of the 15 risks.

"In the four-time participation group, the percent low risk people went from 51 percent to 64 percent, that's a huge jump," said Wright. "It's a big deal when you see that much improvement."

Allegiance started with 51 percent of its employees classified as low risk, which is much lower than normal, and 19 percent as high risk, which is above average, Wright said. The number of high risk workers fell to about 12 percent over the four years. Studies have shown that employees who are high risk cost more in healthcare and lost productivity.

One of the reasons the program was so successful was because it was comprehensive, said Dee Edington, director of the HMRC. Edington has appointments in the School of Kinesiology and the School of Public Health.

In other words, the program helped keep healthy workers from getting sick because it included them in the wellness plan, he said. "It's a lot cheaper to keep employees low risk than to move them from high risk to low risk," Edington said.

The project was designed to be implemented in three stages. The first stage uses Allegiance as the pilot to test the effectiveness of the wellness program. The second phase expands It's Your Life to six of the largest employers in the area, and the third stage expands the program to all employers in the county and any community organizations that want to participate.

A cost analysis is pending to see if the savings are great enough to justify the incentives and the cost of the wellness programs, said Wright.

The study appears in the Journal of Health & Productivity.

The University of Michigan School of Kinesiology continues to be a leader in the areas of prevention and rehabilitation, the business of sport, understanding lifelong health and mobility, and achieving health across the lifespan through physical activity. The School of Kinesiology is home to the Athletic Training, Movement Science, Physical Education, and Sport Management academic programs—bringing together leaders in physiology, biomechanics, public health, urban planning, economics, marketing, public policy, and education and behavioral science.

Laura Bailey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.kines.umich.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk

17.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Only an atom thick: Physicists succeed in measuring mechanical properties of 2D monolayer materials

17.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Fraunhofer HHI receives AIS Technology Innovation Award 2018 for 3D Human Body Reconstruction

17.01.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>