When American workers become ill, their employers bear much of the cost. Chronic illness among employees forces employers to pay higher insurance premiums, and hurts business by leading to diminished productivity and high turnover. In fact, according to data from the Kaiser/HRET survey of employee benefits, if employers were not responsible for their employees’ medical costs, corporate profits would double.
Recognizing the importance of employee health, companies frequently offer worksite health promotion programs. However, such programs focus solely on changing individual behavior. We believe that this represents an incomplete approach, because health is shaped not only by personal choices, but also by the environment in which we live and work. The working environment – particularly work that is stressful, sedentary or takes place at the night – is known to contribute to obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, and other chronic illnesses. For this reason, any attempt to improve the long-term health of workers must address not only their lifestyle choices, but also the work organization that contributes to their disease.
This session presents employers with a path to promoting and protecting their employees’ health holistically, by addressing both personal choice and work organization – an integrated approach known as Total Worker Health™. The rationale behind Total Worker Health™ will be discussed and examples provided. Finally, a tool will be suggested for use when building programs on the basis of Total Worker Health™.