Maintaining people's ability to work is a priority in many European countries. Through healthier and more motivated employees, companies should benefit from lower absenteeism and increased productivity. The public sector expects savings in health care costs, an increase in the employment rate and avoidance of early retirement. Employees benefit from improving their health and well-being. The aim of the study is to investigate whether there is empirical economic evidence for the benefit of workplace health promotion.
Systematic literature search in electronic databases and handsearch for systematic reviews, meta-analyses and economic studies with predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Literature search provided two meta-analyses (with 84 primary studies), three systematic reviews (with 36 primary studies) and one model calculation (with 6 primary studies). There are relatively few empirical studies available to prove the economic benefit, often with inadequate methodological quality. Most of them are conducted in the United States of America. Only a few are from Europe, and those are mainly from Scandinavia. The available studies show a positive return on investment for companies however with a width range. Benefits for the health and social services have also been proven in a model calculation.
The positive results must be interpreted with caution. Firstly, there is a lack of good primary studies on the effectiveness of measures on which economic analyses could be based; secondly, the methodological quality and comparability of economic analyses can still be improved and thirdly, the transferability of the results is often limited due to differences in health care systems.