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 employee absences, 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 27

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - Summer 2014

President’s Message
Director’s Desk
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