A Business Case for Health/Wellness

Should companies care about the health and wellness of their employees?

Alere Wellbeing  recently presented a webinar hosted by Dr. Ron Goetzel of Emory University and Thomson Reuters, discussing the cost of health and productivity-related expenditures that employers face, the role obesity plays in creating or exacerbating these conditions, and how employers can support obese and overweight employees.

Here are a few highlights:

U.S. Health Expenditure as a Percentage of GDP: 

-1970: 7.2% 

-2011: 17.7% 

Projected annual growth for healthcare expense is 5.8% until 2020 

*Keehan et al. Health Affairs. 30:8. August 2011

 According to Ken Thorpe, while approximately 37% of the rise in annual healthcare expense can be attributed to innovation and advances in technology, 63% is attributed to increased disease prevalence.  An estimated 27% of these costs are associated with obesity. 

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  If you improve the health and well being of your employees: 

  1. Quality of life improves 

  2. Health care utilization is reduced 

  3. Disability is controlled 

  4. Productivity is enhanced through both attendance as well as presenteeism

    In short, healthy people get more done.  Without even factoring in reduced medical expense to the firm, employee morale, productivity, presenteeism, attendance and in turn, organizational effectiveness, all increase.  It pays to care about the health of your employees.

     Does your company invest in your health/well-being?  If so, how?  

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What if Your Boss Tracked Your Sleep, Diet, and Exercise?

What if Your Boss Tracked Your Sleep, Diet, and Exercise?

Excerpt from full text:

““Sirens are going off in my head. There’s certainly the potential for abuse,” says Beth Givens, the director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a not-for-profit privacy advocate based in San Diego, explaining that employees shouldn’t use such a system unless there’s an “iron-clad” privacy statement that prevents the company from making HR decisions based on the health data.”

If nothing else, Citizen’s decision to explore health metrics to drive productivity and engagement demonstrates the company’s commitment to health and wellness, as well as data-driven decision making.  Currently only 10% (8 of 80 employees) have volunteered as guinea pigs for this program, still in its admittedly nascent stages.  Yet, this novel health tracking offering could reap great returns to the employer.  After all, healthy people are happy people and happy people get things done, right?

What do you think: do the potential benefits to the employer outweigh the legal headaches and privacy issues?