For many years, the OECD has been highlighting the economic impact of investing in prevention for unhealthy lifestyles and chronic diseases. Unhealthy lifestyles, including smoking, poor diets, harmful alcohol use and physical inactivity are responsible for 76% of all deaths occurring in the population of working age, between ages 20 and 64, in OECD countries. Well-designed prevention policy packages help improve population health, reduce health expenditure, and improve employment and work productivity.

The report “Promoting health and well-being at work: policy and practices” places a spotlight on workplaces, which are an ideal location to spread and implement health promotion and well-being activities in the working-age population, as populations across the OECD countries age and face an increasing burden of unhealthy lifestyles and chronic diseases.

Findings from the report support an integrated approach of the promotion of health and well-being into occupational safety and health actions. Combined with the prevention of occupational risks, workplace health and well-being programmes can improve employees’ lifestyles, health and well-being while also producing benefits for the employers. Previous OECD modelling work indicates that scaling up interventions reducing sedentary behaviour and promoting physical activity at the workplace could improve employment and productivity resulting in the equivalent of an additional 37 000 full-time equivalent workers per year in 30 OECD countries, with a positive economic return of USD 4 for each USD 1 invested.

This report analyses policy levers implemented in ten countries, including G7 countries and three other OECD countries in the Asia and Pacific region, to support and incentivise employers to promote employee health and well-being. These levers include regulation, financial incentives, guidelines, as well as certification and award schemes. The report also explores how governments can facilitate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investment to encourage health promotion at work.

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