Researchers led by Leonard L. Berry of Texas A&M University, Ann M. Mirabito of Baylor University and William B. Baun of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, say since Johnson & Johnson incorporated a wellness program in 1995, the percentage of its employees who smoke dropped by more than two-thirds.
Those with high-blood pressure or who are physically inactive declined by more than one-half and the wellness program saved $250 million on healthcare costs from 2002 to 2008 -- or a return of $2.71 for every dollar spent, the researchers say.
Richard Milani and Carl Lavie said one study involved a random sample of 185 workers and their spouses, who were not heart patients but received heart exercise training from an expert team.
Of those diagnosed at high heart risk -- for body fat, blood pressure, anxiety and other measures -- 57 percent were converted to low-risk status by the end of a six-month period. In addition, the company's medical claim costs had declined by $1,421 per participant, compared to the costs from the previous year.
In addition, a well-designed employee wellness program can translate into reduced employee turnover.
The findings are scheduled to be published in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review.