A good investment is one that creates a positive return – ideally both financially and socially.
Workplace health and wellness programs, and disease prevention programs are one such positive investment. They promote healthy employees by making disease prevention a priority. In doing so, they also reduce employee healthcare costs.
In the United States, chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of disability and death. In addition to decreasing both life expectancy and quality of life, these conditions are the reason employee healthcare costs are rising and why our system is overextended.
Why Employee Health Needs To Be A Priority In The Workplace
It’s estimated that the average healthcare cost for someone with one or more chronic illness is 5 times greater than someone without.2 Workplace health and wellness programs can help counter these preventable diseases.
Overweight and obesity rates are also on the rise and are noteworthy because a high waist circumference increases the risk of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and poor blood sugar control. These indicators along with a few others are the very risk factors that account for every major chronic disease. Rising overweight and obesity rates therefore largely contribute to the prevalence of illness and to the cost of employee healthcare.
In the past, disease prevention involved the modest combination of a routine annual checkup, basic blood work and vaccinations. Other forms of medical intervention did not, and in most cases, still do not play a role until a disease becomes evident. If our sick-care system wishes to progress logically, it is imperative that we target lifestyle factors proven to contribute to the onset and progression of disease.
Increasing Employee Health And Reducing Employee Healthcare Costs
The education and implementation of healthy eating habits, along with the encouragement of regular physical activity are two of the most important elements dictating health status. These factors play the largest role in weight management and both, independent of weight management, positively alter blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol. Preventative healthcare must also involve the cessation of smoking, the reduction of alcohol and the proper management of stress and underlying behavioral triggers.
While it is always the responsibility of an individual to prioritize their health, people don’t typically invest today to prevent something down the road, as there is no immediate gratification or instant results to justify a personal investment.
That is why workplace health and wellness programs targeting at-risk employees are so important and are proving to be a win-win scenario for both employee and employer. Effective workplace health and wellness programs are aiming to reduce the number and severity of chronic diseases via lifestyle intervention. More importantly, they are also aiming to improve employee health and prevent disease thereby avoiding unnecessary employee healthcare expenses from the start.
The reality is healthy employees are more productive and cost your workplace healthcare system less. As a society, we collectively benefit when optimal employee health reduces the burden on our sick care system – that is what healthcare is all about.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rising health care costs are unsustainable
- Partnership for Solutions. Chronic conditions: Making the Case for Ongoing care