Promoting Employee Wellness Through Healthier Workplaces
Employers may hold the key to reducing employee health risks; through corporate wellness programs, employers can take aim at new health risks such as workplace stressors.
The traditional wellness model focuses on employees’ personal health behavior that can drive up health risks and medical costs. To reduce the personal health risks of employees that are believed to drive a significant portion of medical costs, these programs incent employees to participate in health screening and behavior risk reduction. Employers sometimes use other methods, such as bans on tobacco or unhealthy foods on their campuses, to send a consistent message about the importance of personal health.
While employers gain medical and lost-time cost reduction through these programs, employees may actually benefit the most. In dramatic cases, lives are saved, and many more lives are enhanced by reducing identified health risks through smoking cessation, exercise, weight reduction, chronic condition management, and other activities.
Long-term behavior change can be difficult at best to maintain, especially for people with entrenched high-risk behaviors. Many deep-rooted psychosocial factors drive habitual high-risk behavior. For example, recent research has shown that bounceback weight gain following weight loss is not just mental or emotional, but has a physiological component as well. People who have lost weight quickly must fight an internal war against their own hormonal and metabolic1 And many wellness programs have observed that people who need help the most are often the most resistant to the challenge of health change.
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