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Workplace Wellness Programs: Worth The Weight?

— The San Diego North Chamber of Commerce is hosting a forum on workplace wellness programs Wednesday afternoon. Research shows these programs can save money and improve employee well being.

Aired 2/26/13 on KPBS News.

Workplace wellness programs can save money and improve employee health, but not overnight.

Companies see workplace wellness programs as a way to lower their healthcare costs and reduce absenteeism.

Scripps Health has one of the region's largest and most comprehensive programs, with more than 17,000 participants. It emphasizes good nutrition, exercise and stress reduction.

Scripps' Johan Otter oversees the program. He said over the last three years, Scripps has seen $8 million in healthcare savings.

"What it doesn't measure is a lot of the indirect costs," Otter explained. "An employee that's healthier is more present at work, their productivity is higher, and they're happier at work and it creates a better environment."

But Otter pointed out these changes don't happen overnight. It can take a company more than three years to realize cost savings from wellness programs.

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