First survey in 13 years finds most US worksite health programs focus onphysical activity, nutrition, and stress management
Almost half of all U.S. worksites offered some type of health promotion or wellness program in 2017, according to a new study published today in the American Journal of Health PromotionExternal. The findings of the report show that worksite health promotion continues to grow in America.
The study, Workplace Health in America 2017External, is the first government survey of workplace health promotion programs in 13 years. The report captures the status of workplace health and safety programs and use of proven, effective employee health and well-being strategies. These strategies include health-promoting policies, health benefits design, and physical changes to the work environment as part of a comprehensive approach.
“More than 156 million full-time workers in the U.S. spend most of their daily waking hours in the workplace, providing employers with an important opportunity to foster a healthy and safe work environment,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “It is encouraging to see a growing number of worksites developing and promoting a culture of health for employees.”
CDC and researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health surveyed nearly 3,000 diverse worksites about their health promotion programs and policies. These included for-profit, nonprofit, and government worksites of all industry sectors and sizes across the United States. In contrast, the 2004 survey looked at non-governmental workplaces only and those with 50 or more employees. The survey had a high proportion of small employers; 77.1 percent of the respondents had less than 100 employees. Small employers represent over 90 percent of all employers nationwide.
Nationally, almost 30 percent of worksites offered some type of program to address physical activity, fitness, or sedentary behavior. Some 19 percent of worksites offered a program to help employees stop using tobacco products, and about 17 percent of worksites offered a program to address obesity or weight management.
Workplace health promotion programs can save companies money by reducing healthcare and absenteeism costs and improving worker productivity.
“The study shows the opportunity to continue to increase workplace health promotion programs among small employers across the U.S.,” said Jason Lang, M.P.H, M.S., co-author of the report and lead for CDC’s Workplace Health Program, Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Preventable health conditions such as obesity and heart disease can be improved through effective and comprehensive workplace health promotion and disease prevention programs.”
Other key findings from the Workplace Health in America 2017 survey
The percentage of worksites with a workplace health promotion program increased with the size of the employer, ranging from 39 percent of worksites with 10-24 employees, to 60 percent of worksites with 50-99 employees, to 92 percent of worksites with 500 or more employees.
69 percent of worksites that had a health promotion program, had it in place for three years or longer.
20 percent of worksites offered programs to address stress management.
14 percent of worksites offered programs to address excessive alcohol and other drug misuse.
17 percent of worksites had a comprehensive workplace health promotion program, Cdc-pdfExternalan increase from 7 percent in 2004.
Having a designated staff person, budget, and experience offering health promotion programs significantly increased the odds of having a comprehensive program.
Resources for Employers
CDC’s online Worksite Health ScoreCard helps employers assess if they are implementing science-based health promotion strategies. CDC also provides a website with free resources on effective strategies to help employers nationwide begin or expand workplace wellness programs. The Workplace Health Resource Center is a one-stop shop for workplace health promotion.
CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), through the Total Worker Health program, advocates for and provides resources to support the integration of occupational safety and health protection with workplace efforts to promote worker health and well-being.
For more information on CDC’s Workplace Health Promotion activities, visit https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/index.html.