The new study explains that employees who participate in workplace health promotion programs miss fewer workdays than those who choose not to participate, with the decrease in absenteeism translating into a cost savings of nearly $16 for each dollar spent on the program.

"This is just another reason companies should offer and encourage participation in wellness programs,” said Steven Aldana, director of the research team and professor of exercise science at BYU.

Depending on a company's size, between 2.5 and 4.5 percent of the money spent on salaries goes to absent employees. By implementing wellness programs, Aldana estimates that companies can save millions of dollars annually.

"Companies are always looking for ways to reduce employee-related expenses,” Aldana said. "Many corporations use health promotion programs as a reactionary effort to curtail ever-increasing, employee-related expenses of health care and lost productivity. This new information provides additional evidence why companies should help employees have healthy lifestyles."

The study examined the health claims costs and absenteeism of 6,246 employees and retirees from the Washoe County School District in Reno over 6 years. Employees' participation in the school district's wellness program was associated with an estimated savings of more than $3 million in absenteeism costs when compared with non-participants.

"The findings are important because, although investment in health promotion is not large, it has a large payback for organizations,” said Nico Pronk, vice president of the HealthPartners Center for Health Promotion in Minneapolis. "Perhaps more importantly, it shows that such programs are able to keep people more functional and on-the-job. Although this is certainly important from an employer's perspective, the ultimate winner is the individual who enjoys better health on a daily basis,” Pronk adds.

MEDICA.de; Source: Brigham Young University