Worksite Wellness: Businesses Need to Take Responsibility

04/30/2011 at 6:02 PM 1 comment

 The costs of health care in our country has never been higher. According to the Wellness Council of America “The annual premium in 2008 for an employer-sponsored health plan covering a family of four averaged $12,500—about as much as an entire years pay for a person working at minimum wage and, if predictions hold, a family of four in the next seven to nine years will spend around $64,000 annually on healthcare.

Nearly 70% of Americans are overweight or obese. Obesity and related chronic diseases cost employers up to $93 billion per year in health insurance claims. The cost of obesity, including medical expenditures and absenteeism, for a company with 1,000 employees is estimated to be $277,000 per year. – CDC

More than the healthcare costs are the losses in productivity. Again, according to the CDC “… indirect costs of poor health including absenteeism, disability, or reduced work output may be several times higher than direct medical costs.”  Another loss in productivity occurs with what is called presenteeism, or being sick but still coming in to work.

So, when I say that businesses need to take responsibility, I’m not talking about an altruistic “it’s just the right thing to do” kind of thing (although, wouldn’t that be nice?). I’m talking about taking responsibility for the loss in profits due to a less healthy workforce. (Recent studies indicate that almost 50% of corporate profits now go for health care costs.)

Worksite wellness programs, and they come in all shapes and sizes for any business, can:

• Increase productivity
• Decrease absenteeism and presenteeism
• Lower health care costs
• Improve employee health status
• Decrease injuries, disability and workers compensation costs
• Improve employee energy levels
• Improve morale
• Enhance creativity and ability to concentrate
• Decrease stress levels
• Reduce employee turnover
• Increase recruitment potential
to name a few.

What kind of program’s right for your business? It depends on a lot of factors. It may be subsidizing employees’ health club membership or creating your own in-house program. Consult with your local health/wellness providers to see what options are open to. Your local health club may already have programs in place. Or, email me if you’d like my help.

Employers and employees, I’d love to hear your thoughts/concerns on this topic. Please ask questions leave comments below.

Best wishes, Mark Nutting, email: m a  r k @ m a r k n u t t i n g . c o m

P.S. One resource for more information is “Making The Case For Workplace Wellness”.


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