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Wellness programs lead employees to healthier lifestyle choices, increase productivity: Study

By Alexia Kapralos
| www.cos-mag.com

A new study shows that implementing workplace wellness programs not only leads to healthier lifestyle changes for employees, but it also leads to increased workplace productivity. 

This study was conducted by a team of 14 people (professors, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students) at the University of Western Ontario's Ivey Business School in London, Ont. in partnership with Sun Life Financial.

In the span of two years (from 2013-15), the study had six anonymous organizations across Canada adopt comprehensive workplace wellness programs with varying degrees of services available to employees. Currently, results based on existing data are released, but academics are continuing to analyze the data.

Overall, the study found that when employers implement workplace wellness programs and provide leadership support, targeted programs, updated policies and practices geared toward health and wellness, communication with employees and evaluation of these company changes, employees performed better, took less sick days and lived healthier lifestyles. The study also found that these healthier lifestyle changes in employees included having more nutritious diets and increasing physical activity.  

According to Michael Rouse, associate professor at the university and principal researcher of the study, one of the most important aspects of a workplace wellness program is providing employees with a biometric clinic. He says that this is key to a change in lifestyle because once people know their body's specific numbers, such as body mass index (BMI), they're more likely to take those first steps in improving their health.

Rouse says that he hopes this study will "continue to evolve the approach to workplace health."

The study also concluded that when workers' physical, mental and financial health is at harmony, integrated health is achieved.

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Canadian HR Reporter is a sister publication of COS

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