Small and mid-sized employers are less likely to provide wellness programs due to limited resources for workplace health promotion. Yet research shows that their employees, who often are culturally diverse and earn low wages, have more risky health behaviors than those at large companies, making them especially vulnerable to chronic disease. To assist these employers, HPRC teamed up with the American Cancer Society (ACS) to create HealthLinks, a comprehensive approach to increasing employee wellness through evidence-based interventions and onsite implementation assistance, tailored for smaller employers. HealthLinks is a version of Workplace Solutions (WPS), a workplace wellness program for large companies designed by HPRC and ACS over 10 years ago. WPS has reached more than 7 million employees in 1,700 companies nationwide.
Through funding from the Washington State Department of Health, HealthLinks was pilot-tested at 23 Mason County-based worksites in 2009. Participating companies showed significant increases in physical activity programs, health behavior policies, and health information communication. Through the Communities Putting Prevention to Work program, HPRC conducted a broader test of HealthLinks among 48 South King County-based employers in 2012. Results were similar to those achieved during the pilot. In 2013-2014, HealthLinks was delivered to employers in Grays Harbor and Lewis Counties as part of the CDC’s Community Transformation Grants initiative. Results continued to show significant improvement in adoption of evidence-based workplace health best practices.
An enhanced version of HealthLinks is currently being tested in King County as part of a large randomized controlled trial. The program is also being offered to employers in Cowlitz, Grant, Jefferson, Kittitas, and Spokane counties via a partnership with the Washington State Department of Health.
The HealthLinks program is endorsed by the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, in addition to the American Cancer Society.