Home The Latest Oregon launches Wellness@Work

Oregon launches Wellness@Work

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Thursday, July 14, 2011

By Emma Hall

wellnesswork_bugTwo years of collaboration between the Oregon Health Authority and business leaders has resulted in a new initiative called Wellness@Work. The initiative's website launched this week with tools for companies to check their current wellness level and simple ideas on how to improve the health of employees.

Workplace wellness is important for workers to stay healthy, but also helps cut costs for businesses, especially welcome in the current economic climate. Healthy workers means less  absenteeism and lower costs for health care, disability and workers' compensation. While Oregon faces high unemployment and a budget shortfall, the state is spending 16% of the general fund budget on health care.

In contrast to previous programs that focused on individual wellness, Wellness@Work targets businesses. “We’re hoping businesses will bring together a committee of employees from all departments to make changes to their workplaces,” says Dawn Robbins, the Work Site Wellness coordinator for the state.

Robbins says that they understand these are tough economic times, so some workplaces may be wary of spending money up front to build a culture of health. However, “lots of research shows that when employees adopt comprehensive wellness, the return on investment is high,” she says.

Currently, health care costs are soaring in Oregon, with smoking alone causing 7,000 deaths and an estimated $2.4 billion in costs and lost productivity each year, according to the Oregon Department of Human Services. Wellness@Work provides resources for businesses to help their employees quit smoking, as well as for creating a tobacco-free work environment. The initiative stems from the idea that Oregonians spend nearly half their waking hours at work, and creating a culture of wellness in the workplace could dramatically improve the state’s health.

Obesity costs the state more than $781 million in medical costs; that grows to  more than $1 billion when including lost productivity and related health conditions. Nearly two-thirds of adults in Oregon are overweight or obese. Wellness@Work aims to lower this number by providing tips on how employers can get their workers moving more and eating better at work. One example is that if employees walk for 30 minutes each work day, they will meet the CDC’s physical activity recommendations—which only 57% of Oregonians are currently meeting.

Wellness initiatives are very important in the businesses that rank in Oregon Business magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon each year. Company yoga sessions tipped Ruby Receptionists into the #2 best medium company spot in 2011. Healthier employees are good for them, and good for the bottom line.

Emma Hall is web editor for Oregon Business.

 

 

Comments   

 
@StLambo
0 #1 Oregon launches wellness@work@StLambo 2011-07-15 10:37:44
Great points and it's amazing how much it costs each year for smoking and obesity related diseases in Oregon. It's sad that most people rely on someone else to manage their own health. Great programs like this will definitely make an impact in people's lives and health, in addition to increased productivity. It will be interesting to see how much this program saves in health care dollars after three years. Building a culture of health and vitality will be the driving force of the modern organization.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Chris
0 #2 Great newsChris 2011-07-18 10:49:35
It's inspiring to see corporate and government organizations getting serious about workplace wellness. Small actions every day can really make an impact for individual employees but also the overall health of the workplace. A number of additional benefits were written about here in this article on Well-being Wire: http://wellbeingwire.meyouhealth.com/work-environment/the-big-impact-of-well-being-in-the-workplace/
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #3 Wonderful to see!-JulieGuest 2014-04-01 21:56:21
I love the fact that business are starting to see the importance of wellness in the workplace. Especially with longer and longer hours at the desk. Sitting for too many hours a day is very hard on the body! Now it's just time to add massage;) www.portlandmassagestudio.com
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Are millennials reshaping politics in the Pacific Northwest?

News
Wednesday, April 02, 2014

MillennialsThumbA new report explores the impact of millennials on Oregon's business and political climate.


Read more...

Eking out a living

News
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
04.08.14 thumb ourtable-coopfarmsBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

It may be obvious, but most farmers don’t make a lot of money. According to preliminary data from the 2012 Agriculture Census, 52% of America’s 2.1 million principal farm-operators don’t call farming their primary occupation. Farm cooperatives may offer a solution.


Read more...

Making faces

News
Thursday, February 20, 2014
02.20.14 Thumbnail ModelsBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

As retailers consolidate and newspapers fold, the business of modeling shifts to ad agencies, apparel companies and new media.


Read more...

Spreading the wealth

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
HiResBY PAIGE PARKER

A money management firm broadens its reach. 


Read more...

Buy the book

News
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
2 03.25.14 thumb bookshopBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Oregon is home not only to many fine writers but also several accomplished small publishers.


Read more...

Closing the gap: Community colleges and workforce training

News
Thursday, March 27, 2014
03.27.14 thumb collegeBY MARY SPILDE | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Community college career, technical and workforce programs present an opportunity to bring business and education together as never before.


Read more...

The 2014 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon

News
Friday, February 28, 2014

100best14logo ThumbnailThe 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon list was announced Thursday night at an awards dinner at the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS