Businesses have many competing priorities: finding new clients, keeping quality high and dealing with rising costs among them. With all these balls in the air, sometimes employee wellness gets lost in the shuffle.
But not paying attention to your employees’ health can hurt you. Here’s why:
Health care costs are rising.
Employers shoulder the burden of health care costs, paying an average of 74–79% of employees’ insurance premiums. And the cost of insurance keeps going up. Over the past 10 years, the price of insurance premiums rose 74% for small firms and 83% for large firms. In 2014, health care costs are expected to increase by almost 9%.
Employees are unhealthy.
As statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services reveal, American employees are in poor health. Fifty-nine percent don’t get enough exercise, while 27% have cardiovascular disease, 24% have high blood pressure, and at least half have high cholesterol.
Unhealthy employees are more costly than healthy ones.
Employees with high health risk factors, such as obesity, tobacco use and high blood pressure, cost employers 25% more than those with low health risk factors. They’re also 18% less productive than healthier employees, amounting to two months’ less productivity, and have higher rates of absenteeism and presenteeism.
Lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce employees’ health risks.
Many of the chronic conditions plaguing American employees, like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, are preventable or even reversible with improved nutrition and exercise habits. Wellness programs are a great way to prompt these lifestyle changes. After Blue Shield of California started a program, for example, its employees’ rates of high blood pressure dropped by 66%.
Workplace culture can promote or inhibit wellness.
Who’s more likely to be fit: Someone who spends 47 hours a week in a setting where people bike and walk, healthy food is served, wellness education is provided and fun events are scheduled that encourage everyone to get moving? Or someone who spends the same amount of time in a place where everyone sits all day, the meals consists of donuts or pizza and the most exercise anyone gets is strolling to the water cooler? Since the average American spends a large portion of his time at work, the culture of his workplace will have a major impact on his health.
The business case for employee wellness is clear. If productivity and lower costs are important to you, you can’t afford to not make your employees’ health a priority.
The health of your employees is more important now than ever before. Learn what a wellness program can do for you!
Photo Credit: Health Costs, Flickr