News | Published May 14, 2013 | Written by Scott DeHart, MD, PhD, medical director, occupational health, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Wellness in the workplace

Study after study has shown that a healthy, happy workforce is a more productive workforce. It logically follows that the cost/benefit ratio of maintaining a corporate culture that promotes wellness is very beneficial, and many companies are realizing the cost savings in preventing lost time.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is particularly true when referencing the cost of health promotion programs in the workplace versus lost time and productivity due to illness, injury, prolonged disability, retraining, and rehiring.

Efforts to protect and promote workers' health and safety in the United States has historically focused on legislation and regulations intended to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses by reducing workplace hazards. As research moves forward relative to the costs associated with work-related injury and illness, priorities have shifted to maintaining the health and wellness of workers.

There are three ways to promote health in the workplace. First, there is great potential for improving workers health through improvements in the nature and structure of work and the design of work tools and workspace. Positive changes in the work environment may include ergonomic considerations, natural lighting, and opportunities for short bursts of exercise.

Strategies may include flexible scheduling, job sharing, and a change in focus from individual toward team efforts. Promotion of social contact among employees engenders a sense of community and shared purpose.

Secondly, the workplace can provide a setting for health promotion through workplace wellness initiatives including risk assessments, follow-up plans, group classes, on-site gym facilities, and smoking cessation programs. Mount Nittany Health established the Health Forward employee wellness program in 2012.

Last, and possibly most importantly, employers have the opportunity to make sure that employees have access to resources that allow employees to take care of themselves and their families. Comprehensive insurance programs and time off packages, for vacation and/or to provide care for an infant or ailing family member, are important considerations for most employees.

In addition, providing ongoing job training to allow employees to gain new skills not only allows the employee to benefit from improved marketability, but also allows the employer to gain access to a continuously improving, more experienced workforce.

Mount Nittany Physician Group Occupational Health helps businesses and organizations in the creation or assessment of workplace wellness programs. For more information call 814.231.094 or visit