Benefits and Best Practices of Worksite Wellness Program: A Literature Review

660 words | 3 page(s)

Reardon (1998), writing about worksite wellness programs, provides an introduction and overview to the phenomenon which describes thoroughly the benefits for both sides of the situation – that is, employer and employee. The author includes a brief history of worksite wellness programs, indicating that they began in the 1970s, and have become more prevalent in response to two factors. The first factor is what Reardon (2014) describes as “a gradual shift” in the entities responsible for health care over the last 25 years (p. 117). Two shifts in particular are highlighted. Initially, the government bore the responsibility for health care, but this has shifted to employers. Furthermore, the responsibility of an individual’s wellness has moved from the health care industry itself into the hands of the consumers. Reardon (2014) also points out that despite an increasing awareness of and interest in wellness, the nature of modern society has enabled an increase in certain diseases related to sedentary lifestyles; additionally, the relative success of one’s fitness efforts is predicated on motivation. Reardon (2014) also focuses attention on how worksite wellness programs benefit employer and employee. There is a financial element on both sides of the issue, with employers saving money in terms of cost containment. Reardon (2014) states that comprehensive programs – that is, programs that address both physical health and mental health issues – are more meaningful. Reardon (2014) concludes that though such programs can be complex, and the initial investment high, ultimately the benefits reaped from the programs are worth the investment. And while Reardon’s (2014) emphasis on the economics of worksite wellness programs is appreciated – after all, ROI is a significant concern for virtually any organization – the notion of emotional investment (such as creating a healthy work environment) was not adequately addressed in the article, which fails to make the connection between employee productivity, satisfaction, wellness, and organizational success, which can be measured financially.

While Reardon’s (2014) approach to the topic was phenomenological and economic in nature, Neville, Merrill, & Kumpfer (2011) offer a longitudinal time-series study to examine the actual health benefits of an incentivized worksite wellness program. The groups studied in this series were divided in terms of health risk, colored this article with a bias which seems to emphasize that the more dramatic the results of the program, the more meaningful or successful it is. The results as reported by Neville, Merrill, & Kumpfer (2011) heavily focus on the high-risk groups and the relationship of length of participation to improvement in BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol. They conclude therefore, as a best practice for worksite wellness programs, that recruitment and retention efforts should focus on high-risk employees, as well as increased levels of participation. Despite the bias in the article, their point on recruiting and retaining high-risk employees is a good one that should form a best practice.

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Bright, Terrell, Rush, Kroustos, Stockert, Swanson, & DiPietro (2012) conducted a needs assessment in their study as a way to gauge employee attitudes and barriers with regard to participating in worksite-based health programs and wellness clinics. Since worksite programs are geared towards the employees with the idea of financially benefiting the employer while also benefiting the employees, the employees’ input is invaluable in developing the program, as well as developing best practices. Bright et al.’s (2012) study reveals that employees are interested in various forms of counseling, from medicine-related assistance to nutritional counseling, as well as screenings, preventive care, and exercise programming. Such studies can serve employers and help them develop wellness programs that respond to the unique needs of their organization, enabling the best practices for that organization.

  • Bright, D. R., Terrell, S. L., Rush, M. J., Kroustos, K. R., Stockert, A. L., Swanson, S. C., &
  • DiPietro, N. A. (2012). Employee attitudes toward participation in a work site-based health and wellness clinic. Journal Of Pharmacy Practice, 25(5), 530. doi:10.1177/0897190012442719
  • Neville, B., Merrill, R. M., & Kumpfer, K. L. (2011). Longitudinal outcomes of a comprehensive, incentivized worksite wellness program. Evaluation & The Health Professions, 34(1), 103. doi:10.1177/0163278710379222
  • Reardon, J. (1998). The history and impact of worksite wellness. Nursing Economic$, 16(3), 117-121.

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