Health Promotion Efforts Keep Employees On The Job

Workers participating in a "comprehensive" workplace health promotion program had a one-fifth reduction in absenteeism during the first year, according to a study in the April Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Led by Maurice Niessen of the NDDO Institute for Prevention and Early Diagnostics, Amsterdam, the researchers evaluated a web-based worksite health promotion project at a large Dutch financial services company. The program used a "computerized knowledge-based reasoning system," which integrated the best available risk prediction equations with research-proven prevention and early diagnostic steps. [WCx]

The program emphasized low-pressure, low-intensity interventions — geared not only to employees' individual health risks, but also to their readiness to make lifestyle changes. Another key feature was assessment of mental health issues leading to burnout, a major cause of work disability in the Netherlands. 

Of about 11,250 employees invited, 3,900 enrolled in the program. After one year, the estimated absenteeism rate was approximately four percent for employees who participated in the program versus five percent for nonparticipants. Thus employees participating in the program had a 20 percent reduction in absenteeism in the first year. 

A growing number of companies are interested in workplace health promotion programs, with the goal of reducing health risk factors that lead to illness and lost job productivity. Studies of previous programs have not consistently shown reduced rates of absenteeism.

The comprehensive worksite health promotion program evaluated in the new study led to a significant drop in absenteeism rates. In fact, the improvement was achieved faster than expected; one year is not really long enough for lifestyle changes to have a meaningful impact on the risk of chronic diseases. [WCx]

Niessen and colleagues speculate that the program may have improved employees' psychological well-being or stress levels perhaps as a result of making healthy lifestyle changes or getting help with mental health problems.

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:



 Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Contact 



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