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Workplace Health

NCDs are the leading drivers of healthcare costs, leading to higher absenteeism and lower productivity in the workplace. The World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Harvard School of Public Health project that the global economic impact of cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental illness could amount to an output loss of $47 trillion over the next two decades. A WEF survey of business executives from around the world identified NCDs as one of the leading threats to economic growth. Many NCDs are associated with risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and harmful levels of alcohol use. These are preventable through environmental and behavioral interventions to alter lifestyle habits.

Because most working-age adults spend more than half of their waking hours at work, the workplace has the potential to influence their environment, behavior, and economic status, generating improved health outcomes for themselves, their families, and communities. Accordingly, the World Health Organization (WHO) cites the workplace as one of the priority settings for health promotion in the twenty-first century. Employee health drives healthcare costs and productivity; an organization’s success depends on the health of its workforce. Fortunately, employers have the opportunity to utilize a number of strategies to enhance the health of their workforce and reap financial benefits through healthcare savings, employee engagement, productivity, and retention. Increasing numbers of organizations committed to achieving and maintaining a competitive edge are investing in promoting a culture of health.

The Vitality Institute’s aim is to identify, evaluate, and promote evidence-based workplace health promotion strategies that enhance the health of employees, their families, and communities. We also have a vision of workforce health metrics being reported alongside financial results, building on the Commission Recommendations.

The Evidence

Leveraging the power of ‘benevolent bribes’

A global leader is proving to be homegrown: Vitality, Discovery’s wellness, loyalty and rewards programme. The company says it is at "the forefront of innovative global healthcare, thanks to groundbreaking techniques incorporating evidence-based interventions drawn... More »

Business Day | November 21, 2013

The Association Between Medical Costs and Participation in the Vitality Health Promotion Program Among 948,974 Members of a South African Health Insurance Company

Purpose. Examine the association between the levels of participation in an incentive-based health promotion program (Vitality) and inpatient medical claims among members of a major health insurer. Design. A 1-year, cross-sectional, correlational analyses of engagement... More »

American Journal of Health Promotion | February 19, 2009

Medical Care Savings From Workplace Wellness Programs: What Is a Realistic Savings Potential?

Background: Workplace wellness programs have become increasingly popular despite large inconsistencies in the analyses of their ability to produce long-term medical care savings. Objective: To clarify the aforesaid situation by estimating potential long-term medical care... More »

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine | January 2013

The Healthiest Company Index: A Campaign to Promote Worksite Wellness in South Africa

Objective: To describe a 2010 initiative to encourage companies in South Africa to adopt workplace health promotion programs. Methods: Data documenting organizational efforts to improve workers' health were collected from 71 participating employers and 11,472... More »

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine | February 2013

Looking for the Next Breakthrough in Tobacco Control and Health

South African statistics on cigarette smoking suggest that there are grounds for some celebration on how rapidly consumption has fallen since the institution of anti-smoking policies started roughly 20 years ago. As with other countries,... More »

The South African Medical Journal | November 2013

Innovative Business Approaches for Incenting Health Promotion in Sub-Saharan Africa: Progress and Persisting Challenges

Non-communicable chronic diseases related to behaviors such as tobacco use, overeating, excess alcohol intake and physical inactivity account for increasing morbidity and mortality in South Africa. Over the last 15 years, Discovery Health, the largest... More »

Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases | October 11, 2013