Monday, November 16, 2009

Healthy Worker Programs Survive Economic Crisis

“Keeping workers healthy, happy and at work through so-called wellness programs remains a priority for many companies despite financial pressures from the global economic downturn, a survey found on Monday. Globally, most employers offer at least one program -- ranging from a flu shot to gym discounts - to ward off health risks such as poor nutrition, obesity, inactivity and stress, said the poll by human resources firm Buck Consultants. Barry Hall, global research leader for Buck, said in the past an economic downturn brought the end of wellness programs and while a quarter of companies said they had been forced to reduce their initiatives, another 19 percent had actually boosted attempts to keep employees healthy. ’We're finding that it is by far not the first thing to be cut,’ he said. ‘The belief and the whole objective and reasons for putting in these programs in the first place are different than they were in the past.’ More than 1,100 employers from 45 countries representing more than 10 million workers responded to the online survey, which was offered in 10 languages and answered by senior or mid-level managers with health or wellness responsibilities. The survey found 64 percent of the employers polled said they had a wellness strategy, up from 60 percent last year and 49 percent in 2007, but two-thirds of those said they had not completely implemented their plans.”

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