Almost half of all U.S. employers offer some type of health or wellness program, according to a report in the American Journal of Health Promotion. It was the first survey done on the matter in more than a decade. Most on the job health programs focus on physical activity, nutrition and stress management.
More than 156 million full-time workers in the U.S. spend most of their daily waking hours in the workplace, providing employers with an important opportunity to foster a healthy and safe work environment,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “It is encouraging to see a growing number of worksites developing and promoting a culture of health for employees.”
CDC and researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health surveyed nearly 3,000 diverse worksites about their health promotion programs and policies. These included for-profit, nonprofit, and government worksites of all industry sectors and sizes across the United States. In contrast, the 2004 survey looked at non-governmental workplaces only and those with 50 or more employees. The survey had a high proportion of small employers; 77.1 percent of the respondents had less than 100 employees. Small employers represent over 90 percent of all employers nationwide.
Nationally, almost 30 percent of employers offered some type of program to address physical activity, fitness or sedentary lifestyle. About 19 percent offered programs to help employees stop using tobacco products and about 17 percent offered programs to address obesity or weight management.
“The study shows the opportunity to continue to increase workplace health promotion programs among small employers across the U.S.,” said Jason Lang, M.P.H, M.S., co-author of the report and lead for CDC’s Workplace Health Program, Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Preventable health conditions such as obesity and heart disease can be improved through effective and comprehensive workplace health promotion and disease prevention programs.”
Workplace health promotion programs can save companies money by reducing healthcare and absenteeism costs and improving worker productivity.