Why Worksite Wellness?
The Case for Worksite Wellness
Healthcare costs are rising, and chronic diseases that can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle are major players in the cost increases. Over 130 million Americans are employed in the United States, and worksite wellness programs are effective in improving their health. Rising healthcare costs also impact employers, especially those with employees living with chronic disease. Business profits are being spent on employees with excess health risks. Poor health of employees harms the company through increased health care plan costs, loss of productivity, and higher rates of absenteeism, injury and disability. Getting employees to improve their health and reduce risks will save the company money. Worksite wellness programs can also attract exceptional employees, enhance morale and commitment, and reduce turnover. The rate of return on investment for most worksite wellness programs ranges from $3 to $15 for each dollar invested, with savings realized after year one.1 The American Heart Association also supports the implementation of comprehensive worksite wellness programs.
Indirect costs to employers resulting from poor health of employees can have higher costs than direct medical costs. Productivity losses due to poor health of the person or a member of his or her family cost U.S. employers $1,685 per employee per year or $225.8 billion annually. Worksite wellness programs can help improve the health of the nation and reduce healthcare costs. Worksite wellness programs have the potential to promote healthy behavior, establish health policies, and reduce disease and injury.2
It is essential to address not only high cost groups (i.e. diabetes and heart disease) but also at risk groups who have modifiable risk factors such as obesity, low physical activity, poor diet, and tobacco use. These are associated with future chronic disease conditions that can put them in the high cost group. The company should aim to manage the health risk of all employees whether high risk or low risk.
1 American Heart Association. Position statement on effective worksite wellness programs. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_308067.pdf
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Comprehensive workplace health programs to address physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco use in the workplace. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/model/index.html