Friday, April 27, 2018

Yet Another Study Finds that Wellness Programs Do not yield Any Company Savings or Produce Healthier Employees

From HR Executive
The belief that some workplace wellness programs are worth the money hit a snag recently when researchers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign released a study that found such programs show “limited evidence” that they actually work. 
According to the researchers, such programs cover more than 50-million workers and are intended to reduce medical spending, increase productivity and improve well-being, but they found workplace-health programs such as health or fitness assessments, weight-control programs or disease-management classes, among others, don’t result in happier, healthier employees, medical cost reduction, lower absenteeism or higher productivity. 
The trio of researchers—Damon Jones of the University of Chicago, and David Molitor and Julian Reif of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—created and deployed a comprehensive workplace wellness program study for a large employer, the University of Illinois. Employees were randomly assigned program eligibility and financial incentives individually. All told, about 5,000 (56 percent) of eligible employees participated. 
Essentially, the study found zero benefits from this specific workplace wellness program in its first year. Health costs, sick days, productivity and even gym visits remained static. According to Reif, assistant professor of finance and economics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the research sought to determine the causal impact of the program on health and employment outcomes. While 39 outcomes showed no improvement, two were positive: Workers who joined the wellness program did become likelier to be screened for health issues, and they thought their employer put a high priority on employee health. ...