Using the workplace to keep people well
By Jessica Zigmond
In conjunction with “Workplace Wellness Week,” the U.S Chamber of Commerce has released a workplace wellness toolkit to encourage both small and medium-sized employers design and implement health promotion programs in their places of business.
The Washington-based group, which represents more than 3 million American businesses across all sectors, reports that nearly 60% of Americans (or roughly 177 million people) get their insurance through their employer. This recent effort is intended to promote workplace wellness programs that the chamber says will help make employees more productive and also yield a return on investment for employers. The organization estimates programs that follow practice guidelines can see returns of $2 to $3 for each dollar invested.
“For the public health community, worksites represent a great place to access a large segment of the population—and not just a large segment of the population in numbers, but in an environment where they will spend a lot of their time on a daily basis,” said Jason Lang, public health adviser in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. He made the statement to attendees at the U.S. Chamber's event to announce the toolkit earlier this week. “A health department will do a communitywide campaign, will work with different organizations in the community—that may not always reach the rank-and-file worker who gets up every day and goes and does their thing.”
Lang also discussed the agency's National Healthy Worksite Program, which was announced last October. According to the CDC, employees spend more than one-third of their day in the workplace, while employers pay more than one-third of the more than $2 trillion that is spent on healthcare. In the national worksite program, the CDC will work with 100 small-to-mid-size employers from the public and private sector in seven U.S. counties—Somerset County, Maine; Shelby County, Tenn.; Harris County, Texas; Kern County, Calif.; Pierce County, Wash.; and Buchanan County, Mo.—that currently don't have the experience or capacity to do health promotion in the workplace.
“What we will do is take them on a journey,” Lang said, “with us as much as we can, to help them build a comprehensive workplace program.”
For more on the CDC's program, visit: www.cdc.gov/nhwp. The CDC will host a training program overview webinar April 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Follow Jessica Zigmond on Twitter @MHJZigmond.