Academic journal article Researchers World

Employee Wellness Programs in Ghana an Analysis of Individual and Organizational Factors

Academic journal article Researchers World

Employee Wellness Programs in Ghana an Analysis of Individual and Organizational Factors

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION:

Global health trends for the past couple of decades have consistently shown a rise in morbidity and mortality from chronic non-communicable diseases despite the fact that these are easily preventable conditions when the right measures are put in place. For instance of 56.4 million global deaths in 2015, 39.5 million (70%) were due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) (WHO, 2010). Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading causes of death globally, killing more people each year than all other causes combined. In spite of their rapid growth and unbalanced distribution, much of the human and social impact caused each year by NonCommunicable Disease-related deaths could be prevented through well-understood, economical and achievable interventions, (WHO, 2010). This situation has subsequently led to a significant rise in healthcare costs both at the national and local level. However in the case of Ghana, malaria remain the leading cause of mortality and morbidity (Ghana News Agency, 2016). Chronic health conditions are on the rise across all age groups, and these conditions create a substantial financial burden, costing employers severely as they provide medical benefits for employees and bear the costs of sickness absence and long- and short-term disability claims, (Thorpe, 2006). The dire effects of these alarming health trends have led the management of some organisations to think through and implement measures to get employees involved in preventive health activities such as Employee Wellness Programs (EWPs) as a means of health promotion.

Workplace health programs are well-structured and an all-inclusive set of health promotion and protection strategies executed at the worksite that includes programs, policies, benefits, environmental supports, and links to the surrounding community designed to encourage the health and safety of all employees. There are workplace health promotion activities or organizational policies designed to support healthy behaviour in the workplace and to improve health outcomes. These programs consist of a variety of activities such as health fairs, health education, medical screenings, health coaching, weight management programs, wellness newsletters, on-site or off-site fitness programs and/or facilities and educational programs. Out of concern about the effect of chronic disease on employee health and well-being, the cost of health care coverage, and effectiveness, employers are adopting health promotion and disease prevention measures, commonly referred to as 'workplace wellness programs' (Mattke & Schnyer, 2013).

With healthcare expenditures rising, there is a growing interest in workplace-based disease prevention and health promotion as a means of improving health while lowering costs (Baicker & Cutler, 2010). In an environment in which health costs are rising steeply, health promotion measures aimed at the nation's workforce could have major long-term effects, possibly saving billions in costs. Furthermore, the productive impact of reaching large populations through workplace spreads beyond those currently employed. Families of the employed, retirees and other recipients could also benefit from combined health and productivity strategies implemented by the nation's employers (Loeppke, Taitel, & Haufle, 2009).

The workplace is increasingly being used as a site for health promotion and preventive health activities - not only to prevent work-related injury, but to assess and improve people's overall health (WHO, 2010). Employee wellness programs do not only improve health outcomes among employees but also improve overall productivity in organisations and subsequently the Return On Investment (ROI) which is a key priority of all shareholders. Medical expenditure dropped by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, and absentee day costs dropped by about $2.73 for every dollar spent. This average yield on investment indicates that the broader acceptance of such programs could prove beneficial for budgets and productivity as well as health outcomes, (Baicker & Cutler, 2010). …

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