If you could change something at your company to achieve wellness success, what would it be? A nine-worksite study shows what worked best for others.
The change has a fancy name — “workplace environmental intervention” — that’s used as a catch-all for a suite of approaches:
- greater access to healthy foods
- physical activity through walking trails and a pedometer program
- health education materials
- leadership training
- physical activity and weight-management programs
- health assessments and individual consultations
- online behavioral-change programs
In other words, there was no one silver bullet that produced results. Companies had to commit to a range of approaches to get some real benefit from wellness.
More than one benefit
The good news is that employers who adopted the wide-range approach did see results, most notably in employee weight loss. That led to other improvements in weight-related ailments, such as diabetes. Interestingly, too, those who lost weight also made strides in other health-related areas, such as smoking cessation. No one’s sure why, but the guess is that people who got serious about losing weight also decided they should get serious about other health risks.
The study was conducted by Emory University looking at nine Dow Chemical Co. worksites. Some of the sites used the comprehensive approach, and others used a scaled-down approach. In all instances, the comprehensive approach produced better results.
The study is a follow-up to an earlier one done by Emory, in partnership with health insurer Highmark, in which it tested the multi-approach to motivate workers to take part in wellness programs.
That study concluded that for every $1 spent on wellness motivation, companies got back $1.65 in reduced costs.