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Best Practices in Local Government Wellness Programs: The Benefits of Organizational Investment and Performance Monitoring

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Over the last 25 years, municipal governments responded to an environment of increasing health care costs by implementing workplace wellness programs. Research reveals that workplace wellness programs can produce performance benefits ranging from reduced health care costs to productivity improvements. However, there is no systematic study of local government wellness programs that identifies the practices that produce cost reductions and productivity improvements. This article presents the results of a national survey of wellness programs in U.S. municipalities. We develop an index of program success using performance data from our sample. Statistical analysis reveals that targeted investments and performance monitoring, at both the individual and program level, serve to reduce costs and improve employee productivity. This research, thus, provides evidence for best practices in local government wellness programs. Given the array of potential benefits of wellness programs and the locus of employers in the provision of health care benefits, it is necessary to further investigate wellness programs in U.S. local governments.