Employee wellness programs can save companies money
Tuesday, 05 July 2011 16:00The Canadian Health Index, a survey launched in 2010 by Sun Life Financial, showed that the overall health of Canadians is below par, according to BenefitsCanada.com. The study suggested that lack of willpower, time and money are the main reasons why some of America’s northern neighbors are unhealthy, and suggests that employee wellness programs may be the answer.
The article cites a 2010 Harvard University study that for every dollar spent on wellness programs, medical costs fall by about $3.27 and absenteeism costs go down by $2.73. CNN reports that according to the Kaiser Foundation's Employer Health Benefits 2008 Annual Survey, average premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance for family coverage increased 119 percent between 1999 and 2008.
Employee wellness programs may be the key to cutting these costs. The healthier a worker is, the less likely he or she is to call in sick and cause their work environment to become a stressful place. Though companies in the past have argued that they do not have the funds for these programs, spending the money could prove to be cost-efficient in the long run.
Scientists identify most common time of day for workplace accidents
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:00A study from researchers at the University of Burgos in Spain has revealed that employees are more likely to have a fatal accident during early afternoon and lunchtime hours than any other time of the day.
While workers had a higher chance of experiencing an accident during the morning hours, such mistakes were not as liable to be deadly. A total of 18.2 percent of falls or injuries happened around lunchtime, but such incidents accounted for 29.4 percent of total workplace deaths.
"Workers should be informed of these risks, and [government officials] should make greater efforts to promote preventive measures in the construction sector, such as continuous shifts," said lead author Miguel Camino López.
Factors like age, work experience, industry or the type of fall did not appear to have an effect on the results.
Results of this study suggest that employees working in construction or heavy manufacturing may be in need of employee wellness programs that address healthy sleep habits, since fatigue could be a cause of many accidents. Additionally, organizations should be sure that these workers are well-trained on workplace hazards.
Office tasks may improve employee health
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:00Employees at offices all over the country are choosing to use instant messaging technology to communicate with their co-workers instead of walking over to their desk for a chat. But researchers at the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies are reporting that it may be worth it to take those few extra steps.
A team of scientists measured the cumulative incidental physical activity - which includes tasks like housework, going up and down stairs or walking to the photocopier - that an individual engages in throughout the day and found that it added up to about 30 minutes of moderate activity.
“It’s encouraging to know that if we just increase our incidental activity slightly - a little bit more work around the house, or walking down the hall to speak with a co-worker as opposed to sending an email - we can really benefit our health in the long-term,” said lead researcher Ashlee McGuire.
Results of this study suggest that organizations seeking improved employee wellness may want to encourage their staff to take some extra steps throughout the day. Additionally, programs that encourage physical activity and healthy living may also lead to a healthier workplace.
Mental health leaves have higher rates of recurrence than those taken for physical disability
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:00Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada have found that employees who take a leave of absence from work for mental health reasons are more likely to take subsequent time off than staff members who take physical health leaves.
They found that the average time between leaves for employees who cite mental reasons was about two years, while it tended to be closer to four years for workers with physical problems.
"If we understand the timing of a repeated episode, as well as who is at risk of having a recurrence, we can develop more effective prevention programs to help people stay at work," said the study's lead author Carolyn Dewa.
The researchers reviewed the health data of 13,000 workers in one Canadian company over a three-year time period.
Authors of the study noted that one reason for the disparity may be that mental health problems are less obvious, so physicians may give these employees permission to return to work before all of their symptoms have fully diminished.
Results of this study suggest that employee wellness programs that address workplace stress and mental well-being may be effective in reducing absenteeism.
Too little or too much sleep may lead to poor mental health
Thursday, 16 June 2011 16:00Most people know that getting inadequate sleep can lead to intense stress, depression and a reduced quality of life. Now, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center have reported that getting too much sleep may also result in suboptimal mental health.
In a study involving 10,654 patient records, the researchers found that individuals who attained less than six or more than nine hours of sleep per night were more likely to experience low quality of life or depression, compared to people who slept between six and nine hours nightly.
"It was surprising to see that sleeping less than six hours and more than nine hours is associated with a similar decrease in quality of life and increase in depressive symptoms," said principal investigator Charles Bae.
Moreover, the author noted that the levels of poor mental health were about the same in both over-sleepers and under-sleepers.
Extensive research has linked sleep disorders with stress levels. As a result, these findings suggest that employee wellness programs that address issues of workplace stress and healthy sleeping patterns may effectively improve staff health while strengthening employee performance.
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