The cost of health care to companies is increasing yearly at an alarming rate. The conventional method of directing resources largely to treat employees who are sick or injured is no longer economically sound. This old way of thinking is clearly one reason for the spiraling pharmaceutical, absenteeism and other health care expenses most organizations face each year. Furthermore, the increasing prevalence of preventable chronic diseases in the workplace is creating a perfect storm of more sickness that drives more costs.
No company will be successful in a globally competitive world with anything but healthy and productive employees. And this is where Corporate Wellness comes in. It helps employers create environments that encourage employees to stay well in addition to taking care of them when they get sick. And it empowers employees to become self-leaders and decrease their risks through a variety of wellness products and services.
In a nutshell, the focus of Corporate Wellness is both sickness prevention and wellness promotion. Thus it aims to both lower employee risks and prevents disease as well as help healthy employees stay healthy. And the return on investment of quality Corporate Wellness is undeniable.
But quality Corporate Wellness has to be radically different than stand-alone, piecemeal wellness programming such as onsite blood pressure checks, weight loss incentives or lunch hour fitness walks, often implemented with limited success. Quality Corporate Wellness has to be driven from the top, integrated into the company culture, be purposeful, strategic and must be evaluated annually.
And when Corporate Wellness fulfills these criteria, it is cost-neutral – when decreases in pharmaceutical claims, absenteeism, and overall health care costs are considered. That is, a company investing in Corporate Wellness has lower health-related costs on one side of the economic equation while realizing increased health-related productivity on the other side of the equation.
There is no downside!
The risk profile of 2 companies at baseline and over a 2-year period determined via an annual Health Risk Assessment is shown above. A company I have a higher risk profile, with more employees at high risk relative to Company II with a healthier profile and fewer employees at high risk. Changes in risk over 2 years after a quality, comprehensive and incentivized Corporate Wellness program is projected for both companies. These changes are realistic and achievable and result in healthier employees overall.
It is well established through research and industry reports that as employees get healthier, employer costs decrease. The cost savings for both companies are projected below:
These cost savings estimate the potential annual savings that may be realized by reducing health risks in each organization. And if the actual health costs are appropriately recorded, these estimates can be verified through measurement of actual costs.