The workplace is not perfect, but few would disagree that it has steadily been improving for the last century or so. For an idea of how hazardous a lot of work was, one need only look at old, grainy pictures of coal miners, farmhands, fishermen or those famous photos of steelworkers having lunch, completely untethered, hundreds of feet above the streets of Manhattan on the ribs of a new skyscraper.
Workplace safety is of course the bedrock of workplace wellness, and this was not officially codified in the U.S. until the Occupational Safety and Health Act and subsequent Administration (OSHA) in 1971. Workplace wellness, however, actually got started earlier, and piecemeal at best, by private organizations.
We’ve come a long way. The modern practice of corporate wellness is supported by convincing data. Extensive studies in medicine, public health and health policy indicate that the costs of corporate wellness services are dwarfed by savings in premiums and absenteeism.
Corporate wellness is any workplace health promotion activity or a set of activities or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace and to improve health outcomes.
BCC sat down with the Vitality Group, which takes a road different from the above. The Vitality Group is a financial services organization offering an incentive-based wellness program to employers as part of their benefits program. With a foundation based on actuarial science and behavioral economic theory, the company encourages changes in lifestyle that reduce health care costs, both in the short run and long-term, by rewarding members for addressing their specific health issues.