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Study Shows Engagement in Wellness Programs Improve Workplace Productivity

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, productivity losses related to personal and family-related health problems cost U.S. employers $225.8 billion annually.

A recent study from Louisville, Kentucky-based health and well-being company, Humana, found that employees who participated in their wellness and rewards program, HumanaVitality, had fewer unscheduled absences, lower health claim costs and fewer visits to the hospital.

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The three-year study was performed on a cohort of associates who were on a Humana employee medical health plan for 12 months in at least three consecutive years. In addition to tracking the healthcare costs of more than 8,000 employees, the study also tracked work performance and found participants to have higher productivity rates.

“One critical measure of a wellness program’s success is its ability to engage all members, both the unhealthy and the healthy,” HumanaVitality President Joe Woods tells Yahoo. “So one of the big highlights in this study is the improved engagement in people with lifestyle-related chronic conditions.”

The HumanaVitality program helps members to create personal plans that best suit their health needs. Participants are then rewarded with points for measures taken in the right direction to achieve better health. The points received can be redeemed for rewards at major retailers, fitness equipment stores and personal electronic stores.

Based off the results, engaged members in HumanaVitality had six fewer hours of unscheduled absences compared to other employees who weren’t engaged in the wellness program. Their healthcare costs decreased by 6% in the first year and 10% in the third year, and unengaged members had 56% more emergency room visits and 37% more hospital visits than their colleagues who did participate in the wellness program.

Currently, only 19% of employers focus on health programs to improve workforce performance. However, according to Humana, 45% say they are looking to make a shift towards workplace wellness programs within the next three to five years.