Enhancing Worksite Wellness through Live Well @ Work

Good health is important in the workplace. When employees enjoy good health, they are happier and more productive, which leads to a healthy, thriving business.  Since 2012, Healthy Works has worked with employers to create better health and wellness opportunities for employees through its comprehensive worksite wellness initiative, Live Well @ Work. 

Healthy Works is a program of the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) aimed at providing easier access to healthy choices, and is part of Live Well San Diego, the County's long-term vision for healthy, safe and thriving communities.  

Enhancing Worksite Wellness through Live Well

Worksite wellness is an important way to address chronic disease, since many adults spend their days at work.  Among San Diego County adults, 26 percent have high blood pressure, 22 percent are obese and 13 percent are smokers. Health issues like these contribute to chronic disease, which in 2007 cost a staggering $4.6 billion in San Diego County. Those numbers impact San Diego County employers in many ways, including the bottom line. 

The good news is that comprehensive worksite wellness programs also impact the bottom line, by contributing to a return on investment for companies in terms of productivity, insurance costs and employee satisfaction.  Worksite wellness programs make good business sense, while also making a positive and often lasting impact on employee health and more.

Successful worksite wellness programs contribute to reduced sick leave absenteeism, decreased healthcare costs, decreased workers' compensation and disability claims, improved employee retention, improved employee functioning and productivity, and improved corporate image.

Healthy Works and University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Center for Community Health worked through a Community Transformation Grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to offer Live Well @ Work programming to help employers improve worksite wellness opportunities.  

Progress made so far includes changing the types of food offered in vending machines, making sure water is available throughout the workday, and allowing employees to be more active and physically fit through walking clubs and meetings. The project has also improved access to clinical preventive services through employee health insurance benefits.

To identify needs and issues, human resources managers in San Diego County were surveyed on worksite wellness strategies related to health screenings and disease management, health insurance coverage, and other areas, including providing work environments that are smoke-free and support physical activity and healthy eating. 

A little over half of human resources managers reported providing access to yearly individual health risk appraisals and screenings for body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Less than half reported providing lifestyle counseling and follow-up monitoring for employees with chronic conditions.

Live Well @ Work offered employers technical assistance to improve their employee health benefits and worksite wellness programming to include access to clinical preventive services, and also to promote awareness of and encourage use of these services among employees. 

Healthy Works also created the Live Well @ Work Worksite Wellness Resource Library, which is a collection of free tools and resources promoting policy and systems changes to improve workforce health.

Resource materials range from start-up toolkits and best-practice guides, to topic-specific resources in areas such as cardiovascular disease prevention, healthy nutrition, smoking cessation, occupational health and safety, and emotional wellness, among many others. Find the resource library at www.healthyworks.org/resource.

Both employees and employers need worksite wellness efforts. They are vital to both the health of the employee and the business.

Live Well @ Work efforts are ongoing, and you can help.  If you are an employee, talk to your employer about the health options available to you, and take advantage of these opportunities. If you are an employer, work to adapt more workplace policies that benefit employees. Good health is in everyone's best interests. For more information and resources, visit the Healthy Works Resource Library.