Study shows wellness program boosted average worker productivity by more than 5%

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Wellness programs can increase companies' operational productivity, suggests a new study titled "Doing well by making well: The impact of corporate wellness programs on employee productivity."

For the study, researchers from University of California, Riverside, UCLA, and Washington University in St. Louis used health and productivity data from 111 workers in five commercial laundry plants in the Midwest to determine how the corporate wellness program affected worker productivity. The data cover the time period of 2009 to 2012.

Four of the laundry plants participated in the wellness program as the treatment group while the plant that did not participate — because is used different insurance coverage, according to a UC Riverside report — acted as a quasi-control group.

According to UC Riverside, wellness program participants could access a health exam that included blood testing, checking blood pressure and a health survey. The participants subsequently received a report on their health status.

Overall, the study found wellness program participation increased average worker productivity by more than 5 percent — "roughly equivalent to adding one additional day of productive work per month for the average employee," according to UC Riverside. More specifically, researchers said sick and healthy individuals who improved their health through diet and exercise increased productivity by about 10 percent.

"Although the small worker sample limits both estimate precision and our ability to isolate mechanisms behind this increase, we argue that our results are consistent with improved worker motivation and capability," the study authors wrote. "The study suggests that firms can increase operational productivity through socially responsible health policies that improve both workers' wellness and economic value, and provides a template for future large-scale studies of health and productivity."

 

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