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Workplace Wellness – Employees who took part didn’t become healthier or more productive

Does your workplace provide incentives to attend the gym? Offer support to quit smoking? Mandate completing a health assessment? It seems that everywhere you turn, businesses are investing resources into trying to improve the health of their workers.
Some of the largest drivers of high healthcare spending in the US are related to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, smoking-related health issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. US workers spend nearly one-third of their time in the workplaces. With a captive audience and large enough incentives, the hope is that businesses can persuade workers to improve their health, and, as an additional benefit, lower health care costs for all parties involved. Many employers seemingly agree with this logic: the workplace wellness industry has more than quadrupled since 2011, drawing in $8 billion in annual revenue and covering almost one in three in American workers.

Unfortunately, our rigorous study of a comprehensive workplace wellness program concludes that it didn’t change employees’ behavior or health care costs in the first year. Employees who took part didn’t become healthier or more productive, and were not more likely to go to the gym or run in a local race. Total health care costs didn’t drop, either.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at A Reason to be Skeptical of the Workplace Wellness Industry – Scientific American

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