Fostering a culture of health in the workplace

In recent years, employers have looked to employee wellness programs as a means of increasing productivity, reducing insurance costs and fostering better employee wellbeing and satisfaction. There’s a direct correlation between employee wellbeing and costs to employers. Worker’s compensation claims and healthcare bills amount to more $60 billion per year in the U.S. So, it makes sense to help boost employee health in order to boost a bottom line.

There’s also emotional aspects to wellness. Job satisfaction and the notion that employers have a social responsibility give employees a feeling that companies care for them.

And so, employers roll out the usual suspects when it comes to employee wellness programs: smoking cessation classes, exercise breaks, yoga classes, weight loss challenges and the like.

Problem is, these efforts don’t work.

According to a clinical trial published by the Journal of the American Medical Association and reported by the New York Times, employee wellness program efforts don’t provide any substantial benefit in terms of healthcare savings. More importantly, don’t impact employee health all that much.

Researchers tracked 33,000 employees of BJ’s Wholesale Club over a yearlong period and found that employees participating in employee wellness programs saw no reduced blood pressure or other health measures. And there was no financial gains or savings for the employer in undertaking the wellness program.

“Wellness is this multibillion-dollar industry where there has been a really weak evidence base of what these programs do,” said Katherine Baicker, dean of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, in the New York Times when asked about the clinical trial.

Do employee wellness programs foster a culture of health?

So, is there anything employers can do to positively affect the health of employees?

We believe wellness begins by creating a conducive workplace. Given that indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air—and that employees spend an average of nine hours a day in these enclosed spaces with others—it makes sense to provide a cleaner indoor environment.

Ultimately, instead of tired smoking cessation programs, or five-minute exercise sessions, we feel employers should focus on a better way to boost productivity and build a culture of health: Cleaning the air.

For example, AeraMax Professional’s line of commercial-grade air purifiers removes up to 99.97 percent of airborne contaminants like viruses, germs, allergens, bacteria, dust, odors and volatile organic compounds from indoor air, providing a healthier, cleaner environment. That means less pollution to exacerbate asthma conditions, and less germs and viruses coursing through the air, making employees sick. And that means less strain on insurance and health benefit programs.