RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Employers, take note: getting employees involved in corporate wellness programs can help you get another day of productivity out of them per month, a new study finds.
Researchers at UCLA, University of California, Riverside, and Washington University examined productivity and medical data of employees working at an industrial laundry company located in the Midwestern United States, hoping to find the conditions in which motivation produced better outcomes.
About 85 percent of the firm’s staff volunteered to participate in the study’s experimental phase, which started with participants undergoing a physical exam that included drawing blood, taking blood pressure, and completing a health questionnaire.
Three weeks after this initial check-up, a registered nurse brought participants a personalized health packet that both detailed their current health status and recommended ways to improve their current health.
Participation in this basic wellness program was shown to increase worker productivity by at least five percent, which was equivalent to a day’s worth of work a month.
For those who were afflicted by illness, the benefits of the program were even more dramatic, sometimes improving productivity by up to 11 percent.
“By showing concern for workers, organizations can strengthen employees’ loyalty and commitment to the company. When workers discover unknown health problems through the program they may feel increased gratitude toward their employer and reciprocate that by increasing their efforts,” says Timothy Gubler, the study’s lead author, in a news release. “Additionally, when programs help employees make healthy choices this can positively impact their wellness, mood, energy, and ultimately increase their productivity through increased capability.”
While the researchers were unable to pinpoint the exact reason for gains in productivity, it seems as if they are multifaceted.
First, wellness programs, however modest, increase employee morale, and help make employees grateful for what they do have.
Secondly, being healthy allows workers to work more effectively and efficiently.
“Our research suggests that corporate wellness plans can boost employee satisfaction by offering a tangible benefit that empowers them to take care of their health in a way that’s integrated into their busy lives,” says Gubler. “The result is healthier and happier employees who are not only less expensive and less absent, but also more productive.”
Previous research had shown that every dollar spent on corporate wellness programs saves $3.27 in health care costs and $2.73 in absenteeism costs.
The study’s findings are published in the journal Management Science.