Jennifer Ludwig
Vail, CO, Colorado

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September 9, 2012
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Vail Valley Voices: Wellness matters at work

Does your workplace have a culture of health and wellness?

A positive wellness culture in the workplace contributes to the physical, mental and emotional well-being of workers ,which plays an important role in reducing the number of sick days and health-associated costs, and can improve employee loyalty and satisfaction.

The benefits of worksite wellness also impact the bottom line, as the workplace becomes more productive and constructive when employers integrate breaks for rejuvenation.

It also helps establish clear and reasonable roles and responsibilities, and respects the time and talents of individuals and their non-work demands.

Multiple studies have shown that healthy employees are more productive, less likely to call in sick and more likely to save employers money on health care than employees who are sedentary, overweight or addicted to tobacco.

Well-designed wellness programs have demonstrated results at decreasing employee health risks and having a positive return on investment.

Worksite wellness programs are not just for large employers that offer health insurance to their employees. Programs can be individualized to fit any size organization, and can be independent of health insurance plans.

There are tremendous benefits to both the employee and employer by instituting worksite wellness programs and policies.

Research indicates that for every $1 invested in comprehensive worksite wellness programs, employers save $3.27 in health-care costs and $2.73 in lost productivity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, companies with wellness programs have an average return on investment of $2.73 to $5.81 per dollar spent on wellness programs, an average 27 percent reduction in sick leave absenteeism, 26 percent reduction in health costs, and 32 percent reduction in workers compensation and disability management claims costs.

Other benefits include enhancing employee productivity, reducing absences and idleness, reduction in health-care costs, educating the workforce about hazards and opportunities for wellness, and helps employees take responsibility for lifestyle choices.

The Vail Valley is known for its active lifestyles and outdoor enthusiasts. However, there are many people in our community who do not have access to affordable recreation, food and prevention education opportunities. Many of these same individuals are working multiple jobs that do not offer benefits.

Worksite wellness programs can offer these types of opportunities at minimal cost with high return. Examples of initiatives that can be part of a worksite wellness program:

-- Recommend physical activity and establish programs for exercise during the workday.

-- Implement a tobacco-free campus policy and provide resources for tobacco cessation.

-- Allow flexible work schedules and telecommuting.

-- Encourage walking or biking to work.

-- Initiate a stair-climbing challenge.

-- Provide nutrition classes.

-- Remove vending machines or make healthy options available.

-- Promote walking meetings.

There are many more things that can be implemented as part of a worksite wellness program. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov or www.welcoa.org or call Eagle County Public Health at (970) 328-8808.

Eagle County Public Health is a partner in the Vail Valley Partnership's Health and Wellness Initiative. What are you doing to make your office a healthy place for yourself and your colleagues?

The Vail Valley Health and Wellness Initiative is led by the Vail Valley Partnership in conjunction with like-minded businesses, trade associations, consumer organizations and economic development organizations whose goal is to increase medical groups and meetings in the Vail Valley and bring greater awareness to the ample world-class health, recreation and wellness opportunities available to locals and guests to drive economic vitality.

Jennifer Ludwig is Eagle County's public health director.


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The VailDaily Updated Sep 9, 2012 01:37PM Published Sep 9, 2012 01:36PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.