Worker wellness program can yield millions

Nov. 19, 2010 at 2:01 AM

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Well-designed employee wellness programs can yield savings of as much as $6 for each dollar spent on the health intervention, U.S. researchers say.

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.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines