The Financial Benefits of a Workplace Health Program Mar 15, 2012, 8:00 am By Emily Haleck

Guest post by Hannah Pulham

Evidence shows that implementing health programs into a workplace setting benefits not just the employee but the employer. These benefits include improved staff morale, increased productivity, better team work, higher job satisfaction and stronger consistent engagement within the company. One of the most important benefits of all? A smaller cost for a bigger bottom line.

Financial Effects on the Employer

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state that maintaining a healthier workforce can lower direct costs, such as insurance premiums and workers compensation claims, while positively impacting many indirect costs, such as absenteeism and worker productivity. According to the Workplace Wellness Organization, “Research now suggests that employers get an average of $3.48 back in reduced health care costs and $5.82 in lower absenteeism cost for every dollar spent on employee wellness.” The more employees you have, the more you will save with a workplace wellness program.

Different Types of Wellness Programs

There are many different types of wellness programs that can be implemented within  a work environment. It is important to understand where the weaknesses are within a company and focus on converting those weaknesses into strengths.

There is no one program that is perfect for every business. Listed below are different areas of focus for corporate wellness programs.

– Weight loss and nutrition

– Physical activity

– Work-life balance program

– Gym membership discounts

– Tobacco-prevention classes

– Providing healthier food options in a workplace cafeteria or vending machine

A good place to start realizing savings is through a wellness program that focuses on preventable illnesses, which account for  approximately 80 percent of illness and 90 percent of all health care costs. Ideas for preventing illness within the workplace include covering costs  for or providing regular testing of :

– Blood glucose

– Blood pressure

– Body fat analysis

– Body mass index (BMI)

– Bone density

– Cholesterol (LDL, HDL ratio)

– Flu shot and other vaccinations

– Mammograms

– Health risk assessments

Reducing Stress a Key Factor

A good corporate health program will also find ways to reduce stress, which the United Nations has called the “20th Century Disease.”  In order to increase the morale, profitability and productivity of employees, employers must treat the determining factors of stress.

One way to do this is to help employees better manage their personal lives, including their personal finances. According to the CDC, over 90 percent of employees in a business receive no workplace education about how to manage their own money, thus it is important that employers provide money management education to ensure a better quality of life for their employees and a better financial outcome for the company.  Some topics that might be covered include:

– Debt reduction

– Emergency savings

– Budget strategies

– Financial planning

– Account monitoring

Another way to reduce employee stress can be as simple as changing the workplace atmosphere or environment.  This might include  creating trust, establishing communication, employee recognition and appreciation, and providing a positive physical environment.

To learn about other ways to start your own workplace health program, contact your local health department.

The Bottom Line

Health issues today affect over 30 million workers in the United States. About a quarter of American workers are costing businesses over $15,000 per year per affected employee. This not only has an impact on an employee’s personal finances but it has a direct effect on their employer’s profitability.

Stop the bleeding today and get (your employees) moving with a workplace wellness program.

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