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Doing Well by Making Well: The Impact of Corporate Wellness Programs on Employee Productivity

Forthcoming, Management Science

55 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2016 Last revised: 1 Jul 2017

Timothy Gubler

University of California, Riverside (UCR)

Ian Larkin

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Lamar Pierce

Washington University, Saint Louis - John M. Olin School of Business

Date Written: June 28, 2017

Abstract

Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of a corporate wellness program on worker productivity using a panel of objective health and productivity data from 111 workers in five laundry plants. Although almost 90% of companies use wellness programs, existing research has focused on cost savings from insurance and absenteeism. We find productivity improvements based both on program participation and post-program health changes. Sick and healthy individuals who improved their health increased productivity by about 10%, with surveys indicating sources in improved diet and exercise. Although the small worker sample limits both estimate precision and our ability to isolate mechanisms behind this increase, we argue that our results are consistent with improved worker motivation and capability. The study suggests that firms can increase operational productivity through socially responsible health policies that improve both workers’ wellness and economic value, and provides a template for future large-scale studies of health and productivity.

Keywords: Worker Productivity, Health, Wellness Program, Presenteeism, Corporate Social Responsibility

Suggested Citation

Gubler, Timothy and Larkin, Ian and Pierce, Lamar, Doing Well by Making Well: The Impact of Corporate Wellness Programs on Employee Productivity (June 28, 2017). Forthcoming, Management Science. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2811785 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2811785

Timothy Gubler

University of California, Riverside (UCR) ( email )

900 University Avenue
Riverside, CA 92521
United States

Ian Larkin

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

Lamar Pierce (Contact Author)

Washington University, Saint Louis - John M. Olin School of Business ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States
314-935-5205 (Phone)

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