Sun Life-Ivey study measures impact of wellness programs

Phase 1 findings demonstrate a potential $3.6B in savings

Last month, Medcan attended a Toronto-based presentation to the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists where Sun Life’s Jennifer Elia and Michael Rouse, PhD, associate professor at Ivey, presented preliminary findings from an ongoing and unique study demonstrating the value of wellness programs in the Canadian workplace.

Rouse said the study is distinguished by its use of a controlled group, which is essential to understanding what is driving results.

“How do these new findings apply to designing effective wellness programs to Canadian businesses?”, asked researchers.

While starting to fill a void in Canada-specific wellness research, Rouse and his team are striving to generate best practices around program design and delivery. They also want to spark an interest, and ideally momentum, toward deeper academic understanding regarding workplace wellness in Canada.

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Phase 1: the $3.6B cost of absenteeism

After a rigorous metadata analysis of select global workplace wellness research, Rouse’s team concluded that wellness programs save 1.5 to 1.7 days of absenteeism in Canada.

“If every company in Canada had a wellness program based on this metadata analysis, the savings to the Canadian economy would be $3.6 billion dollars,” estimates Rouse. “That’s huge.”

The greatest impact of the study’s first phase may have been the context and literacy it offers professionals navigating this sector.

The Sun Life-Ivey research study was officially launched in 2011, with the latest findings to be published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The next round of results are set to be released in the fall.

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