Your boss wants you to be healthy and, with the majority of them, it isn’t just to better manage the company health plan.

A study of some 500 business leaders from across all industries and company sizes found that nine out of 10 managers believe there’s a direct link between a healthy workforce and a productive one. Further, more than half of those surveyed consider employee health so critical to the company’s success that they are willing to invest in it and rank it as a top strategic goal.

This information comes from online research by the Health Enhancement Research Organization. While differences in employee health prioritization and company commitment to improving health emerged in various industries, overall the study concluded that most employers aren’t merely motivated by cost control when they make investments in employee health.

“For several years now, we have seen companies of all sizes increasing their investment in employee health through workplace health management programs,” said Jessica Grossmeier, vice president of research, HERO. “While this movement is most commonly connected to a desire to control health care costs, our interactions with employers led us to believe that there was more at play here and that employers were realizing greater, long-term value from good employee health.”

Among the highlights of the study:

  • 91 percent of respondents said they saw a clear distinction between productivity and performance. “This has implications for program evaluation and how we use such terms in the business case for investment in workforce health,” the study said.

  • When asked to cite the principle factors behind productivity and performance, one in five listed employee health in the top three, along with employee engagement and having the right tools to do one’s job.

  • 57 percent said their leadership “viewed health as an investment in human capital or as part of the organization’s core business strategy. Less than a third of business leaders view investments in health primarily as a health care cost containment strategy.”

  • Executive leaders are more likely (97 percent) than middle managers (nine in 10) to say that health influences performance.

  • 77 percent felt their organization’s leaders were committed to improving the health of their workforce.