To maintain health and work ability is a common goal for both employers and employees. A recent Finnish study showed that an eight-year-long workplace health promotion program prevents health risks and cancels out effects of aging.
High number of health risks among employees increases health care expenses and sickness absences, and decreases productivity at workplaces. The best way to fight this is to prevent these health risks from occurring. But how permanent are the results of this effort in the long term? We have not had clear certainty of it until now.
The Finnish wood Supply organization of Stora Enso carried out a comprehensive workplace health promotion program from 2010 to 2017. According to the research material, during the program there were less health risks active than among normal working age population. At the beginning of the program, in the male-dominant personnel, 50–60 percent of the staff were in the low-level health risk group (0–1 risks), 30–35 percent in the medium-level group (2–3 risks), and 9–11 percent in the high-level health risk group (4 or more risks).
During the multiyear workplace health promotion program, most of the personnel (66–73%) maintained their level of health risks, 13–15% improved their level, and only 12–21% decreased their rating. Also, the fact that health risks tend to increase when people age, makes the results even more valuable.
“In wood procurement we don’t own factories or machinery. Our success is dependent on the people and their health and well-being. According to the indicators, our extensive investment in the workplace health promotion program made our staff almost a thousand years younger,” describes Jussi Lemmetty, Resource Director at Stora Enso Wood Supply Finland.
“The well-being of our staff is strategically important to us. Long-term actions have supported staff satisfaction, work atmosphere and commitment. Preventive actions have brought us extensive annual savings,” Lemmetty describes.
During the workplace health promotion program, over 120 separate services were executed around Finland. The services were planned and carried out by 4event Ltd, a company whose health and wellness business was unbundled into Freia during fall 2020.
During the first four years of the program, the main function of the services was to support the employees in making a lifestyle change. The latter four years focused on mental resources. The incidence of health risks was studied through physiological indicators and queries that were carried out three times during 2010–2011, 2013–2014, and 2016–2017.
“Personal communication and the trainer keeping track of things worked well. The health surveys indicated that I was on the right path. Now I can enjoy my retirement days in good fit,” tells Harri Poutanen, a former employee at Stora Enso Imatra terminal.
“This program and the study are unique concerning their duration in Finland and in the world. The results are encouraging to other employers as well. With a preventive touch we can lengthen carriers and save euros,” says Antti Äikäs, Doctoral Researcher.
The third dissertation article for free download:
Äikäs A, Absetz, P, Hirvensalo M, Pronk N. 2020. Eight-Year Health Risks Trend Analysis of a Comprehensive Workplace Health Promotion Program. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 17(24), 9426 Open access doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249426
Results from earlier dissertation articles on the same program:
Have a look at our other research articles in our Materials site.
Stora Enso Metsä
Stora Enso Metsä delivers annually over 22 million cubic meters of wooden raw material for Stora Enso Finnish mills of packaging, biomaterials, wooden construction and paper. Stora Enso Metsä procures trees only from sustainably managed forests. In addition, Stora Enso Metsä offers forest owners expertise and assistance throughout the entire lifecycle of the forest. Stora Enso Metsä employs 500 people and has over 85 entrepreneurs of harvest, transport and forest services as subcontractors.
Freia Ltd is a Finnish management consulting company established 2020. We help corporate leaders in the areas of leadership development, work ability management and worksite health promotion with business in mind.