- Short-term wellness interventions can improve employee well-being and may help employers reduce their overall costs while maintaining employee health and productivity, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
A research team composed of wellness experts at Tufts and Johnson & Johnson found that employers using a 2.5 day wellness intervention saw improvements in energy levels, motivation, overall health, and needed hours of sleep over the next six months.
The study revealed that employers may be able to create a significant return on investment if they equip employees with minimal, but effective, wellness education and resources.
“This is the first clinical study to show that even a short intervention can produce lasting benefits and changes in employee wellbeing,” said Jennifer Turgiss, MS, Vice President of Behavior Science & Advanced Analytics at Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions.
“These results will help us understand how to improve workplace wellness programs to maximize participation and cost-effectiveness, while ensuring employees reap the benefits from them.”
Employers enlisted wellness coaches to teach employees how to raise energy levels, organize personal goals, and review wellness feedback from friends and family.
Coaches then led sessions about fitness, nutrition, mental wellness, and personal motivation. The intervention uses 90 to 180 minute sessions that teach members quick exercises to boost energy, stick to healthy eating habits, and incorporate several wellness activities into a single day.
The model also produced improvements related to cardiometabolic health metrics over a six-month period, the researchers found.
Employees in the intervention group experienced improvements in BMI, glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure compared to a control group that did not participate in wellness programming.
“This study is an important proof-of-concept that workplace intervention programs have the potential to enhance employee wellbeing,” said co-author Sai Krupa Das, PhD, nutrition scientist and principal investigator at Tufts.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate significant improvements in multiple quality of life metrics with a 2.5 day immersive worksite-based intervention with employees.”
Many employers are eager to invest in wellness programming if it can reduce longer-term medical costs stemming from chronic disease care or related crisis events.
While interest in wellness programming is gaining momentum, only a third of employees currently believe that wellness programs are effective Employers face challenges with onboarding employees into wellness programs, but could have more success with shorter intervention models like the one used in the Tufts study.
Employers should try and tinker with their own wellness strategies to successfully improve employee productivity and overall health through meaningful interventions.