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Well-being or wellness policies are an increasingly common feature of human resource management in large organizations (see also occupational health care). Such policies are directed at improving the physical and mental health of employees through the provision of information, advice, education, and services, including counselling, screening for cancer, and other health problems, and the provision of keep-fit, healthy eating, and associated programmes. Well-being policies can embrace several areas of activity and encompass specialized initiatives to deal with stress, obesity, smoking, or alchohol abuse (see alcohol policy, no-smoking policy, obesity policy, and stress management). They may also be gender-specific with well-woman and well-man programmes, focused at the avoidance or detection of particular health and social problems, such as breast, cervical, testicular, or prostate cancer or domestic violence. Contemporary well-being policies are the modern expression of a long tradition of welfare work within personnel management. They are motivated by a number of concerns, including a desire to be a good employer, responsive to the needs of employees (see paternalism), a conviction amongst policymakers that the workplace is a good place at which to target public health initiatives, and a belief that promoting employee well-being can reduce absenteeism and raise productivity. In some organizations, well-being policies are the ‘positive’ counterpart to a more assertive attempt to target absenteeism through disciplinary sanctions.

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