Whether it’s a startup or an ongoing business that you have been running, every penny invested there matters a lot. Now ask yourself, is health part of your business investment? What is your understanding of workplace health?
Workplace health refers to the efforts by employers to improve employee health, decrease health care costs, reduce absenteeism and increase productivity, according to the Council of State Governments’ Health Initiative.
When you’re running your own company, you are sure bound to have employees, and their health can directly impact the performance of your business. If you have not thought hard about investing in health for your company, consider these facts provided in the Legislator Policy Brief published in January 2008. Click here to read more.
Why You Should Invest in Workplace Health:
1. Preventable chronic diseases cost employers. On average, employers spent an estimated $18,000 per employee per year for all costs related to health and lost productivity due to illness.
This is a lot of money, if you think about it. With little focus on health, not only will you unnecessarily spend for diseases that are preventable, but your gross and net profits will suffer as a result of decreased productivity.
2. Chronic diseases account for more than 75 percent of the $2 trillion spent annually on health care in the United States.
3. Workplace health programs can help make healthy choices easier and prevent chronic diseases. Employers can improve the health and productivity of their employees and save on health care costs through workplace health initiatives. Initiatives can include:
- Providing access to healthier food choices in cafeterias or vending machines;
- Offering opportunities for physical activity;
- Providing tobacco-free work environments;
- Offering information about preventive health services; and
- Making preventive services—such as screenings for cancer, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure—available at work.
If you take a look at these initiatives, they are practically doable, and the cost-benefit cause is definitely a plus over medium to long-term.
4. Research shows that workplace health programs work. According to a comprehensive review of research studies, work site health promotion programs can lead to reductions of more than 25 percent. This is due absenteeism, health care costs and disability/workers’ compensation costs.
Skeptics are likely to speculate that health programs don’t work. But the evidences that we have at hand should encourage and assure us that there are quantifiable benefits to prove workplace health initiatives.
5. Investments bring returns. Comprehensive workplace health promotion programs result in a $3 to $6 return on investment for each dollar invested by the employer.
6. Comprehensive approaches work best. Simply providing health information to employees isn’t usually enough to motivate the lifestyle changes necessary to significantly improve health.
As a believer of a holistic approach to achieving optimal health, I have seen how multiple approaches bring about changes in work behavior. The results don’t come overnight, but they are more lasting and effective when consistently done.
7. About 80 percent of Americans receive health care coverage through employer-based benefits and services. Employers provide health insurance coverage for 159 million American workers and their families age 65 and under.
8. As the work force ages, employers will have stronger incentives to invest in workplace health programs to prevent or delay the onset of chronic diseases among their employees. By 2012, nearly 20 percent of the total work force in the United States will be age 55 and older. In 2000, that age group comprised just 13 percent of the work force.
Workplace health is not just a matter of wants, but need for your business. As a business owner, it should be part of your responsibility to create a workplace environment that promotes health. Think of the positive returns it can give to your business.
What do you think of your own workplace environment? We would love to hear your thoughts and insights on the subject. Please share in the comments below.