Employee Health Affects Costs and Safety

The overall health of our working population is declining, not only due to aging, but also as a result of unhealthy behaviors. To maintain a competitive position in their industries, employers must address the impact this decline has on health care costs, as well as on-the-job safety.

Studies have found that almost 70% of health care costs are the direct result of behavior. Nearly half of the U.S. population has at least one chronic disease, most of which are preventable. The incidence of obesity has doubled in our country since the late 1980s and accounts for a significant portion of our health care spending.

The biggest obstacles to changing health habits and behaviors include:

  • Lack of employee engagement
  • Lack of sufficient financial incentives to encourage participation
  • Lack of an adequate budget to support effective health management programs

Costs related to poor health habits are not limited to medical care. They also translate into wage replacement costs and lost productivity.  In addition, health problems in physically demanding positions increase safety risk and concerns. It is a natural fit to include healthy lifestyle incentives into safety initiatives.

A carefully designed and effectively communicated wellness program can promote employees’ well-being with the intent to pre-empt illness, injury and medical expenses.