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Today’s Economic Turmoil, Drives Need For HPM Programs, According To IBI


Now more than ever, employers and employees can benefit from the advantages and lifestyle advice of health and productivity management (HPM) programs, according to an analysis by the non-profit Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI).

In times of economic difficulty and uncertain employment, employees are more liable to engage in hazardous health behaviors, which reduce workplace productivity, reported IBI.

Behaviors and risky lifestyle choices – such as heavily drinking and smoking – increase with higher rates of unemployment, and in turn lead to higher rates of workplace absenteeism and reduced productivity.

"The effect [of risky health behaviors] harms employers and workers alike," said Thomas Parry, PhD, president of IBI.

A study in Sweden found that workers who smoked reported one-third more days of sick leave per year than non-smokers or former smokers.

Lack of exercise and routine smoking and drinking were also contributing factors to absentee time, according to the findings.

Using data from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey, IBI analyzed data on 31,000 employed adults’ lifestyle risk factors and their industry’s quarterly unemployment rate, focusing on drinking, smoking, and physical inactivity.

Following a doubling of unemployment between April 2008 and April 2009, (4.5 percent to 8.9 percent), employees who smoke daily would be expected to increase by 25 percent, non-exercisers by 9 percent, and moderate to heavy drinkers by 20 percent.

In conjunction with these findings, IBI reported that a survey it conducted of 400 employers found 68 percent of respondents with HPM programs plan to add, not cut, resources, for the next two years. An additional 23 percent plan to maintain their existing HPM programs.

"Employers appear willing to step up their health promotion, disease management, and return-to-work efforts even in tough economic times," said Parry.

Personal health benefits aside, "It’s important that workforce health promotion be seen as a necessary and sound business strategy," he said.

Address: Integrated Benefits Institute, 595 Market St., Suite 810, San Francisco, CA 94105; (415) 222 7280, http://ibiweb.org.


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