Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Workplace Wellness Research Paper

Workplace Wellness Research Paper

Today it’s generally agreed that workplace wellness is perceived as an integral concept of organization management, which allows to improve company’s performance, cut healthcare costs and reduce traumatism. The growing need in health management and health promotion programs is explained by the growing demand from employees, due to globalization of national economies and growing competition. Recent survey’s show stable correlation between growing work motivation, economical benefits and better personal health indicators in the compares with developed health and wellness promotional programs, compared to those businesses where such practices are not used, which implies that wellness promotion is a reasonable and economically justified management program for any company.

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The paper discusses the importance of health and wellness promotion practices on workplaces, as currently employees are more subjected to stress related disorders and professional traumatism due to a growing load and growing performance demand. The paper analyzes results of survey conducted by American Association of Occupational Health Nurses about the need of wellness promotion and correlates it with findings of human management specialists and recent data of positive changes in the companies which widely use health promotion programs.

It’s generally agreed that workplace wellness is perceived as an integral concept of organization management which guarantees higher organization performance. Workplace health programs are among the key tasks for senior managers as they are considered to be of the most important components in organization of healthy and effective work environment.

Specialists today indicate that effectively planed workplace plans consist of various activities which can be classified according to the main the following elements: physical and social environment, healthcare practices and personal resources.

Current researches in human resource management and health management have indicated that practices to improve workplace health and wellness have a good impact on both performance of companies and attitude of employees towards their responsibilities. Moreover, specialists indicate about an obvious correlation between workplace wellness programs and growth of economical performance of companies, which witness necessity of health management.

Current economic tendencies show that need in healthy and high motivated workers is growing in every industry due to growing competition and globalization. That’s why future higher performance and success of businesses will depend not only on advanced technological innovations but also on health issues and motivation of prospective employees. There is a clear explanation of such tendencies: continuation of globalization will require higher performances from different businesses due to a growing competition, especially with countries where labor is cheaper. Such business practices will result in a growing number stress issues and stress related disorders, which will influence overall efficiency and will have far going affects on both company and employees.

“Chief executive officers, human resource managers, occupational health and safety personnel, and others in private and public sector organizations are actively supporting program and resources to assist employees to deal with the many stresses of life and enhance their productivity and effectiveness.”1 (from http://www.qnet.mb.ca/healthy_bkgrd.htm)

Studies conducted in healthcare management propose that workplace wellness practices allow to plan health spending on personnel and allow to decrease the total amount spent on health programs. According to the survey conducted by The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) employees clearly understand the importance of promoting workplace wellness programs:

72 percent of respondents witnessed that health programs will have a better impact on economic performance of organizations and on general working climate in companies. They have also marked that such tendencies as high injury or illness rate and high absenteeism demonstrate real problems in human resource management sector and they show the importance of hiring an OHN (occupation healthcare nurse).

Another important finding of the survey was the fact that most of employers have unclear idea about workplace health impacts: “Only half of companies interviewed said they do not know the full cost related to employee health- and disability-related issues. Companies who said they did have information available to assess the true costs of employee health issues tended to be the most active in offering value-focused employee health activities such as employee health and wellness programs.”2

The research conducted by AAOHN had the following findings: 60% of respondents from executive management sector responded that the role of OHN is very important, others also provided positive feedback3. Among the most important benefits of OHN were: reduction in worker’s compensation, reduction in absenteeism, reduction in the number of accidents and injuries on the workplace, growth of motivation.

Recent statistical data of health promotion and wellness programs, provided by different authors shows clear correlation with results of survey conducted by AAOHN, as workplace employee wellness practices are becoming widely spread, especially in big companies. If to compare 20 year old data with recent observations we’ll find out that progress in promouting health and wellness practices on workplaces is outstanding:

If in 1987 about 65% of US businesses with number of employers higher than 50 had at least one healthcare activity, then today many companies have their own healthcare centers or at least offer several health promotion activities to its employees. Recent data shows that “In 1996,89% of employers had some type of health initiative, up from64% in 1992. The most common health promotion initiatives were: smoke-free workplace (80%), education/training (78%), health risk assessment (76%), and special programs (71%).” 4

It’s important to note about economic benefits of health promotion programs, which allow reducing healthcare costs considerably. For example, survey of health program promoted by Procter and Gamble gives the following data: participants of this program had reduced their healthcare expenses on 29% compared to non-participants. In addition, they had fewer admissions to hospital and fewer days spent in hospital compared with those who didn’t participate in health promotion. Specialists mark that the most effective health promotion programs include stress reduction practices as nearly 60-90% of employees’ visits to physicians are caused by different types of stress disorders.5

Making a conclusion it’s important to note the necessity of health and wellness promotion on the workplace because of it’s stimulating and health cost reduction factors. Recent surveys and practices show that health promotion programs are very effective in creating a healthier working environment, increasing efficiency and stress disorders rehabilitation. Surveys indicate that expenses spent on health promotion, on creating more favorable labor conditions and professional medical aid of occupation healthcare nurse appear to be much smaller than expenses for labor case disability compensations, absenteeism and other negative effects of working environment. Besides illness and accident preventing, health and wellness promotion programs allow to reduce negative influence of stress related disorders, which considerably increases work performance and motivation of works. Recent health promotion practices which are followed by a growing number of companies also include differentiation of smoking and non smoking workers, introduction of free sport facilities (such as gyms, sport grounds, etc.) for employees, organization of company’s rehabilitation centers for temporary disabled employees, etc.

In addition, some authors mention that encouragement of alcohol and smoking cessation programs has positive influence not only on motivation of workers but also on their personal health and personal life, as a number of work related accidents considerable reduces among those employees who quit smoking or drinking. So, recent practices show that health management and health promotional programs can be regarded as an integral part of employee management programs which require new professionals who will specialize in workplace healthcare management, plan rehabilitation programs, realize different types of existing healthcare promotion programs and will develop new approaches of healthy life promotion and healthy workplace organization.
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