Economic Turmoil, Drives Need For HPM Programs, According To IBI
Now more than ever, employers and employees can
benefit from the advantages and lifestyle advice of health and
productivity management (HPM) programs, according to an analysis by the
non-profit Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI).
In times of economic difficulty and uncertain
employment, employees are more liable to engage in hazardous health
behaviors, which reduce workplace productivity, reported IBI.
Behaviors and risky lifestyle choices –
such as heavily drinking and smoking – increase with higher
rates of unemployment, and in turn lead to higher rates of workplace
absenteeism and reduced productivity.
"The effect [of risky health behaviors] harms
employers and workers alike," said Thomas Parry, PhD, president of IBI.
A study in Sweden found that workers who smoked
reported one-third more days of sick leave per year than non-smokers or
Lack of exercise and routine smoking and drinking
were also contributing factors to absentee time, according to the
Using data from the CDC’s National
Health Interview Survey, IBI analyzed data on 31,000 employed
adults’ lifestyle risk factors and their industry’s
quarterly unemployment rate, focusing on drinking, smoking, and
Following a doubling of unemployment between April
2008 and April 2009, (4.5 percent to 8.9 percent), employees who smoke
daily would be expected to increase by 25 percent, non-exercisers by 9
percent, and moderate to heavy drinkers by 20 percent.
In conjunction with these findings, IBI reported
that a survey it conducted of 400 employers found 68 percent of
respondents with HPM programs plan to add, not cut, resources, for the
next two years. An additional 23 percent plan to maintain their
existing HPM programs.
"Employers appear willing to step up their health
promotion, disease management, and return-to-work efforts even in tough
economic times," said Parry.
Personal health benefits aside, "It’s
important that workforce health promotion be seen as a necessary and
sound business strategy," he said.
Address: Integrated Benefits Institute, 595 Market
St., Suite 810, San Francisco, CA 94105; (415) 222 7280, http://ibiweb.org.