Worksite Health: A Good Start with Room to Grow

Michelle Hopkins

What is Worksite Health?

Worksite health is the provision and promotion of worksite policies and programs designed to reduce health risks and improve employees’ quality of life. A convenient way to think about worksite health is on a continuum. On the left, begin with more basic services, such as a seasonal flu vaccination program. As you move to the right, gradually add more health services until, on the far right, you achieve a comprehensive worksite health program, one that includes any or all of these components:

  • Worksite culture that emphasizes the importance of health and safety (through posters, periodic messaging, training, awards and recognition, etc.)
  • Vaccinations (including flu and travel health)
  • Pre-employment physicals, including physical capacity evaluations for specified jobs
  • Biometric screenings to assess and follow up on:
    • Blood pressure
    • Cholesterol
    • Blood sugar
    • Body mass index
    • Smoking status
    • Other lifestyle considerations
  • Health education/lunch ‘n learn programs
  • Health risk assessment questionnaire
  • Health coaching and lifestyle modification counseling
  • Athletic trainer-led exercise classes
  • Use of fitness trackers
  • Onsite ergonomic assessment
  • Onsite visit by a physician
  • Onsite health clinic offering a full program that includes any or all of the components above, along with medical care identified by the employer as valuable for the workforce

Why Worksite Health is Important

Chronic and mental health conditions represent about 90 percent of the nation’s $3.3 trillion annual health care expenditures. Worksite health interventions in the workplace can help mitigate this trend.1

In addition to improving employees’ health, well-being, and occupational safety, worksite health is also seen as potentially having many more benefits:

  • Increasing productivity, creativity, and engagement
  • Decreasing disability, health care utilization, and related costs
  • Reducing absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Helping to recruit and retain top talent
  • Bolstering the employer’s stock market performance

“That’s one perspective, and we certainly talk about those benefits of worksite health. At Concentra®, we add one more. We ask employers what they want to achieve. Companies aren’t interchangeable. They have unique needs and business environments that drive very particular worksite health requirements,” says Arlene King, assistant vice president of Concentra’s onsite program strategy.

Many Companies Offer a Little, Few Have Much

By looking at multiple recent sources of information – from Kaiser Family Foundation’s Employer Health Benefits Survey to the Harris Poll Nielsen Survey – the CDC Workplace Health Initiative concluded that 82 percent of employers with 200 or more employees offer some kind of wellness program. But only 13 percent of employers with workforces of 200 or more had comprehensive programs in place.1

Among the more popular offerings were smoking cessation (70 percent), lifestyle coaching (68 percent), and weight-loss programs (62 percent). Employee screenings with follow-up, health education, and providing a supportive physical and social environment also drew solid majorities.

Self-assessment of Worksite Health

In 2019, the CDC made a second update to the Worksite Health ScoreCard that was first released in 2012. The purpose of the ScoreCard is to help organizations assess and plan for worksite health promotion and obtain guidance on evidence-based strategies for a healthy workforce.1

The ScoreCard can be downloaded from this page.

There are 154 questions with a possible score of 294. The ScoreCard not only provides insight into an employer’s current worksite health program, but also compares progress with national benchmarks on each health topic to show where there is room to grow.

The CDC added four new modules to the updated ScoreCard in 2019:

  • Sleep and Fatigue
  • Alcohol and Other Substance Use
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Cancer

Along with the tool itself, the CDC provides tutorials on creating a Worksite Health ScoreCard account, understanding your results, and more on this page.

Concentra’s Experience: Worksite Health Examples

Employers that work with Concentra have a variety of reasons for implementing worksite health programming. Some want to keep employees healthy, happy, and optimally productive. Other employers are in industries where compensation and benefits are comparable – and they look to a worksite health program to provide an extra edge in recruiting top talent.

“It all comes back to the employer’s goal,” says King. “For example, I have seen employers who are dealing with a very large proportion of chronic health conditions, a big factor in fueling overall health care costs. A well-designed worksite health program can mitigate those costs on the front end and reduce claims on the back end. I’ve seen it work very effectively.”

One Concentra client was concerned about the potential health effects of stress employees faced in the company’s pressure-cooker environment. While employees were well compensated, the employer believed that wasn’t enough and chose to create a comprehensive worksite health program that included an onsite clinic, lunch and learn programs, health screenings and follow-up, and departmental challenges. “The employer, the broker, and the employees are all highly engaged and recognize the importance of supporting employee health and what it takes to provide that support,” says King.

Onsite health centers are the pinnacle of worksite health. Concentra is a pioneer in developing a continuum of onsite clinic models to make the benefits of onsite health care available to small and large employers alike. Concentra performs a substantial amount of work upfront aimed at ensuring success. This includes a clear focus on clinic goals, employee engagement, and a comprehensive evaluation to determine the optimal scope of services and staffing. Concentra currently operates more than 130 onsite programs across the U.S.

Missing Link in Many Worksite Health Programs

“There’s a very big red flag, and I wave it continually for employers who are exploring worksite health programming and onsite centers,” says King. “That’s the importance of bringing all stakeholders together in support of the worksite health program and embedding it into core business success.

“I have seen many high-performing onsite clinics – clinics that were consistently meeting performance metrics – fail and close because they were driven by one individual , maybe an HR leader, and that person left. Worksite health is a critical performance factor just as important as equipment, technology, and all the rest. At Concentra, we help employers understand that and create multi-stakeholder support so they reap worksite health benefits for years into the future, not just near-term.”

Concentra is ready to work with you to create a customized worksite health solution.

For more information on Concentra onsite clinics, visit our onsite clinics page.


1 Introduction to the “New and Improved” CDC Worksite Health Scorecard. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019.