As we continue to examine important issues involving working families during National Work & Family Month, here’s an article by Ellen Galinsky on The Huffington Post, “Healthier Employees and Cost Savings: Expanding our Definition of Wellness at Work.”

Ellen is President, Families and Work Institute and a member of the Corporate Voices Board of Trustees. Here’s an excerpt from her post:

In her recent piece celebrating National Work & Family month, Donna Klein of Corporate Voices notes that “progressive personnel policies and a work culture supportive of occasional flexibility” offers companies “enhanced recruitment, retention, engagement, cost control, productivity and financial performance.”

Here’s another reason to support an effective and flexible work culture for all employees: It could actually help your employees stay healthy.

Employers understand that investing in employee wellness is smart business, but as Cali Yost says, most think “wellness program” equals an employer-subsidized gym membership. A recent SHRM survey shows that even though 60% of responding HR professionals report that the recession has had an impact on their employers’ benefits offerings, many employers plan to increase benefits in health and wellness. To wit, 10% of respondents plan to implement rewards or bonuses for achieving or completing certain health and wellness goals/programs, and 8% of respondents plan to add health/lifestyle coaching in the next 12 months.

If we really want to make a difference in working families’ lives, our definition of wellness needs to expand. Employers are less aware that creating what we at Families and Work Institute call an “effective” workplace,” (based on six measurable criteria that include a climate of respect and trust, economic security, autonomy, job challenge, a supervisor who supports your work, and work-life fit) should be considered an integral part of promoting wellness.

Families and Work Institute (FWI) just released The State of Health in the American Workforce study revealing that American employees are getting less healthy each year. Beyond their potentially terrible impact of employees, we know that health problems are very costly for employers and society at large. Our study finds that 38% of employees in workplaces ranked in the “high overall effectiveness” category report “excellent overall health.” By contrast, only 19% of employees in workplaces in the “low overall effectiveness” category report “excellent overall health.”

The new FWI study is fully downloadable at www.familiesandwork.org.