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Why is workplace wellness important?
As part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s plan to control costs, improve quality, and expand access to health care, the Chamber believes that wellness and chronic disease management programs in the workplace play a critical role in improving the nation's health and productivity. As the largest purchasers of health care, employers are uniquely situated to help provide leadership in the workplace wellness and health promotion space.
Workplace wellness programs are a win-win for both the employer and employees. Employees who participate in workplace wellness programs are fitter, more productive, have better morale, and are safer than employees who do not otherwise treat their chronic conditions. Employers who offer wellness initiatives have achieved excellent returns on their investment - programs that follow best practice guidelines return $2 to $3 dollars for each dollar invested. These savings can be used to pay employees higher wages, invest in further adapting benefits to specific employee population needs, and create more jobs.
Where can I get more information about setting up a wellness program?
Learn more about wellness programs and how to set up a workplace wellness program for your business. The toolkit contains a brochure Workplace Wellness Programs: Promoting Better Health While Controlling Costs, an instructional video on how to set up a workplace wellness program, as well as case studies of other employers with successful workplace wellness initiatives.
How has the Chamber highlighted the importance of workplace wellness?
During the first full week of April as part of “National Workplace Wellness Week,” the Chamber hosts an annual event emphasizing innovations in workplace and community wellness.
On April 6, 2017, the U.S. Chamber hosted an event, “Innovations in Workplace and Community Wellness: A New Era,” which highlighted trends in workplace and community wellness initiatives emphasizing strategies to influence behavior change; promoting mindfulness at work; and improving health through genetics.
An event summary accompanied with photos can be found here.
On April 7, 2016, speakers at the forum, “Innovations in Workplace and Community Wellness: Aligning Business Goals With a Healthy Workforce,” emphasized innovative workplace wellness programs; how implementation of the health care reform law is impacting public health and strategies to influence behavior change; technological advancements and generational perspectives on health.
For more information on the Chamber’s 2015 event, "Innovations in Workplace and Community Wellness: Bridging Personal and Population Health," 2014 event: “Innovations in Workplace and Community Wellness: Navigating the New Terrain,” and the 2013 event: “Innovations in Workplace and Community Wellness: Advancing Private-Public Partnerships.”
In addition to the annual workplace wellness forum, the Chamber also hosts an annual conference in October of each year where panelists discuss the importance of wellness in the broader context of a changing health care landscape. Information on the Chamber’s 4th Annual Health Care Summit – “Optimizing the Next Generation of Health Care” can be found here.
What workplace wellness publications has the Chamber produced?
In April 2016, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released, Winning With Wellness.
The report discusses the characteristics of successful and effective workplace wellness programs, how workplace wellness can be a win-win for employers and employees, and the legal and regulatory parameters associated with these programs.
Leading academic experts—Dr. Jim Prochaska from the University of Rhode Island; Dr. Dee Edington, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan; and Dr. Ronald Loeppke are contributors. Dr. Prochaska and Dr. Louise Short, Mercer, discuss best practices. Dr. Edington and Anne Marie Ludovici-Connolly, a well-recognized consultant in health promotion, elaborate on how workplace wellness programs contribute to both financial ROI and intangible benefits, such as better performance, recognition as an employer of choice, and high employee retention. In addition, J.D. Piro, Aon Hewitt, provides an overview of the federal regulations governing wellness programs, including the proposed regulations by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
In January, 2017, the Chamber released an executive summary of the Winning With Wellness publication. The executive summary is a one-shop stop resource, outlining the 10 essential steps in designing a workplace wellness program, provides a chart that summarizes reports and case studies demonstrating employee satisfaction and social or financial ROI, and incorporates a series of tables, which discuss the legal and regulatory parameters associated with these programs.
In June 2013, the Chamber released a report, Health Care Solutions from America’s Business Community: The Path Forward for U.S. Health Reform emphasizing wellness as an example of private sector leadership.
In 2007, the Chamber highlighted and shared best practices in Leading by Example, a CEO-to-CEO publication that shares details about member companies efforts. In 2009, the Chamber also produced a “cookbook,” Healthy Workforce 2010 and Beyond: An Essential Health Promotion Sourcebook for Both Large and Small Employers, to assist businesses in planning, implementing, and evaluating comprehensive workplace wellness programs.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center has also produced a number of publications on the intersection of workplace and community wellness:
- The Role of Business in Health and Wellness Innovation
- Navigating Obesity
- Aligning Communities: How Four Cities are Preventing Obesity
What comments has the Chamber submitted?
At the end of November 2012, the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Treasury (Treasury), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the proposed regulations regarding incentives for nondiscriminatory wellness programs in group health plans. The Chamber submitted comments on January 25, 2013, which can be found here. On June 3, 2013, the DOL, the Treasury, and HHS promulgated final regulations.
On May 8, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a public meeting, “Wellness Programs under Federal Equal Employment Opportunity” where witnesses discussed the intersection of the new HIPAA regulations with anti-discrimination laws. On May 23, 2013, the Chamber submitted comments in response to hearing.
On February 12, 2015, the Chamber provided a statement for the record in response to the Senate HELP’s January 29, 2015, hearing entitled “Employer Wellness Programs: Better Health Outcomes and Lower Costs.”
On April 20, 2015, the EEOC promulgated proposed regulations with regards to wellness programs that involve disability-related inquiries or medical inquiries under the American with Disabilities Act. On June 19, 2015, the Chamber submitted comments in response to the proposed regulations.
On October 30, 2015, the EEOC issued proposed regulations under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), addressing the extent to which an employer may offer an employee inducements for obtaining information about a spouse’s health status. On January 28, 2016, the Chamber submitted comments.