Georgia County Government - Summer 2014 - (Page 27)
SPECIAL FOCUS: HEALTHY COMMUNITIES
County Wellness Programs:
The Healthy Choice for
Employees and Budgets
By Laura A. Hernandez
CHRONIC DISEASE IN the workforce is
costing your county money. Diabetes, heart
disease and lung conditions, the so-called
"lifestyle diseases" arising from inactivity, poor nutrition, tobacco use and alcohol
abuse, are no longer just problems of the
post-retirement population. In the past ten
years the incidence of working age adults
with chronic diseases has increased by 25
percent. Not only do these conditions compromise individuals' quality of life and prospects for longevity, but they also result in
significant losses to workplace productivity.
An unhealthy employee means compromised
performance and increased absenteeism, and
the costs associated with these come out of
your county's budget.
To counter the frightening upward trend
of lifestyle diseases, employers in all sectors
are adopting health promotion and disease
prevention strategies, often referred to as
"workplace wellness programs."
Approximately half of U.S. employers
now offer wellness promotion initiatives.
According to a 2013 workplace wellness
programs study sponsored by the U.S.
Department of Labor and U.S. Department
of Human Services, the most comprehensive analysis of these programs
to date, participation in a wellness program over five years is
associated with a trend toward
lower healthcare costs and
decreasing healthcare use.
Moreover, wellness has
been proven to reduce
injuries and turnover.
The programs deliver
significant returns on
investment for employers that adopt them,
with reductions in direct medical costs and
absenteeism adding money back to the bottom line.
Health promotion and disease prevention strategies are especially meaningful in
workplace settings because the programs
can reach individuals when they are still
young enough to benefit from the programs
both in the short and the long term.
Wellness programs frequently serve
as a morale booster for employees
and a positive way to improve the
organizational culture. The benefits of the programs extend to
the community at large, too,
when employees bring their
healthier habits home.
When county governments implement workplace wellness programs,
they are taking an active
role in helping employees
SUMMER 2014 www.accg.org
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - Summer 2014
County Focus: Walton County and Pragmatic Governance
County Wellness Programs: The Healthy Choice for Employees and Budgets
UGA Extension’s Walk Georgia Offers County Governments a Free, Online Option for Worksite Wellness
Counties and the Affordable Care Act: An Update on Federal Healthcare Legislation
Leadership Development: ACCG Gives County Officials ‘Tools’ to Make Better Decisions
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - Summer 2014