Every corporation wants productive employees. Yet, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for an employee to be productive if they are not there. So today we take a closer look at the effect of worksite health promotion programs on employee absenteeism.Empty Office Chair

In a two-year study at the Washoe County School District to determine if wellness programs impacted rates of absenteeism over a two-year period. It was concluded that wellness program participation was associated with large reductions in employee absenteeism.  Program participants averaged three fewer missed workdays than those who did not participate in any wellness programs. The decrease in absenteeism translated into a cost savings of US$15.60 for every dollar spent on the program.[1]

Lost days of work can add up to big money, besides the obvious, of work not getting done, other costs that can incur include:

  • Overtime for other employees to fill in
  • Decreased overall productivity of those employees
  • Any temporary help costs incurred
  • Possible loss of business or dissatisfied customers
  • Problems with employee morale

How do worksite health promotion programs help?

The most common reason an employee is absent is due to personal illness, followed by the illness of a family member or family issues, personal needs, entitlement mentality, and stress.[2] Worksite health promotion programs have been proven to directly impact absenteeism due to illness and stress. An example of this would be a study done at DuPont

After a health promotion program was in place for two years, Du Pont measured its impact on hourly employee absenteeism. In a study of 61 sites, of which 41 sites had a health promotion program for at least two years, Du Pont measured absenteeism of blue collar hourly employees and found that where the program was in place, absenteeism decreased by 14%, compared with a decline of only 5.8% at the sites without a program.[3] The decline resulted in a net reduction over two years of 11,726 fewer disability days at program sites than at sites without programs.

According to the American Institute for Preventative Medicine, in a review of 18 published studies on worksite wellness, found that the return on investment of health promotion programs is $5.07:1 due to reduced absenteeism.

Valorie Bender


[1] Aldana, S. et al. Financial impact of a comprehensive multisite workplace health promotion program. Preventive Medicine 40 (2005) 131–137

[2] Aldana, S. Pronk, N. Health promotion programs, modifiable health risks and employee absenteeism.  J Occup Environ Med. 2001; 43:36 – 46

[3] Bertera, R. The effects of workplace health promotion on absenteeism and employment costs in a large industrial population. Am J Public Health. 1990 September; 80(9): 1101–1105

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