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Total Worker Health – the Time is Now

Within the past week, the Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence (HWCE) announced the release of a Total Worker Health (TWH) Supplemental issue from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM). Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?

This document contains relevant information for both small and large employers to consider. David P. Lind Benchmark (DPLB) co-authored an article with HWCE entitled, “An Employee Total Health Management-Based Survey of Iowa Employers.” The article addresses health and wellness program activities within Iowa based on a random survey conducted in 2012 by DPLB along with the research expertise of Data Point Research, Inc.

For the last five years, I have had the honor of collaborating with HWCE on many research-related issues regarding health care in Iowa. As part of the University of Iowa College of Public Health, HWCE’s mission is to improve the “health of workers in Iowa and nationally through integrated health promotion and health protection research, collaboration with peer institutions, and dissemination of successful interventions.”

As discussed in the published JOEM article, when comparing the number of employee well-being programs offered within the workplace, a great chasm exists between small Iowa employers and their larger counterparts. Smaller Iowa employers (less than 50 employees), make up 94 percent of all Iowa employers and yet a relatively small number offer well-being initiatives.

Perceived lack of resources certainly affects whether employers will implement the programs discussed in the article. Based on another study we completed in 2012 for Capital Crossroads, there is some hope. Employers without wellness programs appear to see the benefit of offering wellness initiatives but are unsure how to begin the process – and, keep the program sustainable into the future. The key is to find ongoing-community resources to help assist employers.

The aim for all employers is to mitigate increasing healthcare costs and the subsequent health insurance premiums that follow. Having healthy, productive and mentally-engaged employees at the workplace is equally important.

There are many insightful articles found in this JOEM issue. Hopefully, you will find a few gems to help make your “employees healthier, safer, and more productive” within your workplace environment.

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