New Study of 19,000 American Workers is Expected to Be Game-Changer for Wellness Industry: Highlights Non-Traditional Risks

  New Study of 19,000 American Workers is Expected to Be Game-Changer for
  Wellness Industry: Highlights Non-Traditional Risks Associated with
  Absenteeism and Business Performance

          Challenges Conventional Wisdom on What Spurs Productivity

Business Wire

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- April 30, 2013

A year-long, groundbreaking study that tracked the well-being of 19,000
American workers in their personal and work lives creates a powerful new
framework for understanding often ignored, less traditional risks that have a
significant impact on absenteeism, productivity and performance. No study has
previously looked at a comprehensive assessment of well-being risks and how
they affect productivity over time. Traditionally, the wellness industry has
solely used measures of health risks to explain differences in employee
productivity. The new study finds that, compared with using health-related
risks alone, the increase or decrease of a broader and more comprehensive
category of risks affecting individual well-being has a much greater
correlation to these productivity differences. The study is published in the
April edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

“This study should be a wake-up call to business and the wellness industry
that a focus on physical health alone is insufficient,” said James O.
Prochaska, Ph.D., Director of Cancer Prevention Research Center and Professor
of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Rhode Island, who
developed the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change. “We need to be
considering the comprehensive range of well-being risks that influence
productivity, not just illness and health behaviors.”

The new peer-reviewed study conducted with employees at five large companies
looks at 19 modifiable well-being risks from multiple important areas and
suggests strong evidence between productivity and these risks. Prior studies
focused on cross-sectional observations of just physical health-related risks
collected at a single time. These new findings could help to transform the way
in which employers define “risk” and intervene to improve workforce
productivity, performance and absenteeism.

Researchers looked at modifiable well-being risks, such as emotional health,
social support, job satisfaction, the nature of supervisor support and
individual financial health. Workers whose total well-being risks decreased
over time showed improvement in several measures of productivity.

“For the first time, we understand the impact of overall well-being on
productivity over time, not just the impact of an individual’s physical
health,” said Lindsay Sears, Ph.D., co-author of the study and Principle
Investigator of Healthways Center for Health Research. “These findings, taken
from several large employers, demonstrate that productivity can be enhanced
relatively quickly through improved well-being, which can yield significant
near-term gains and build an important business case for employers.”

While this study was not intended to evaluate program effects, it is important
to note that researchers observed an overall positive trend for all
productivity measures during the study period when the employers implemented
multidimensional workplace well-being interventions.

The study’s other key findings include:

  *A reduction in well-being risks over time was linked to decreases in
    absenteeism, "presenteeism" (time spent at work with reduced productivity)
    and an improvement in job performance
  *Poor emotional health (anxiety, stress, depression) and inadequate
    exercise had the greatest impact on productivity of any other health risks
  *In the study sample, 25% were able to reduce their physical health risks
    by one or more, 26% improved their health behaviors, 16% improved their
    social and emotional health and 31% and 13% of employees reduced their
    work-related and financial health risks, respectively
  *Those favorable changes were observed along with a 27% reduction in
    absenteeism, 8% to 15% decrease in presenteeism and almost 1% increase in
    job performance (all statistically significant differences on the basis of
    paired t test results)
  *The job performance improvement had an economic value of $468 per employee
    per year

“Simply put, this new science is a critical determinant for employers wanting
to discern the underlying trends in productivity to help drive growth and
performance,” said Bruce Sherman, MD, FCCP, FACOEM, Medical Director at the
Employers Health Coalition. “Linking performance and productivity solely to
health risks is no longer a slam dunk for wellness researchers and forces us
all to take a more holistic look at the promise of a multi-dimensional
assessment of well-being.” He went on to comment, “The study’s comprehensive
approach applied to five major companies, helps to more clearly characterize
barriers for achieving higher workforce performance in clear terms, and can
help organizations identify and address key drivers that powerfully influence
a business and leave a lasting mark on productivity.”

Multi-media offerings of the study’s outcomes  can be found at Healthways

About Healthways

Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of
well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one
person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce
and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include
employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans,
communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and
personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize
each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs.
Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of
everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary
technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years
and now serves approximately 45 million people on four continents. Learn more


Kelly Motley, 615-614-4984
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