News Dedicated to a Healthy Workplace May/June 2013
The Importance of Workplace Wellness
“The wealth of business depends on the health of workers.” 
-- Dr. Maria Neira, World Health Organization


The relationship between employee health and individual and organizational performance is more crucial than ever before. The facts are sobering. Tobacco use, physical inactivity and obesity are creating challenging road blocks for businesses, individuals and medical providers. Consider these facts:
  • America’s obesity rate is the worst in the world and is almost universally believed to be a major predictor of future illness, particularly diseases that are difficult and costly to manage, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.1
  • More than 30 percent of Missourians are now obese, and the diabetes rate is nearing 10 percent. And while decreasing, about 21 percent of the state’s residents still smoke.2
  • Obese employees (BMI≥35) have 4.2 percent higher health-related productivity loss, equal to $506 per employee per year.3
  • Medical costs paid for obese individuals was $1,429 higher annually than for normal weight.4
  • Smoking is responsible for approximately one in every five deaths in the U.S. Cigarette smoking is estimated to be responsible for $193 billion ($96 billion in direct medical costs and $96.8 billion in lost productivity) in annual health-related economic losses in the United States.5
  • Sedentary employees incur $250 more in annual health care costs than moderately active (1-2 time/week) and very active (3+ time per week) employees.6
  • Employee health risk status and employer costs go hand in hand. Employer costs rise as employee health risks increase. Employees with three or four health risks (medium risk) cost businesses 77% more; employees with five or more risks (high risk) cost businesses 124% more.7
  • Financial costs due to excess health risk are most frequently realized in excess medical claims, pharmacy claims and absenteeism.

Implementing a workplace wellness program is good business. As an employer, giving employees the opportunity to learn about and choose healthy behaviors is one of the most important things you can do to lower costs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports:

  • A one percent reduction in excess weight, elevated blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol has been shown to save $83 to $103 annually in medical costs per person.8
  • An analysis of 22 employer studies showed employee health care costs were reduced $3.27 for every $1 spent on comprehensive workplace health programs.
  • Absenteeism costs dropped by $2.73 for every $1 spent over a period of three years or more.9
  • Additional benefits of workplace wellness programs include improved job satisfaction, corporate image and employee morale.

For more information on BarnesCare’s workplace wellness programs, contact a BJC corporate health consultant at 314.747.5859.

Bibliography

  1. National Center of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health
  2. Robert G. Hughes. Missouri Foundation for Health, Prevention is Good Business, 2012
  3. Gates DM, Succop P, Brehm GJ, Gillespie GL, Sommers BD. Obesity and presenteeism: the impact of body mass index on workplace productivity. J Occup Environ Med. 2008;50(1):39-45
  4. Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: payer-and service-specific estimates. Health Affairs. 2009;28(5):w822-831
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable mortality, years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226-8
  6. Feifei Wang, Tim McDonald, Laura Champagne, Dee W. Edington. Relationship of body Mass Index and Physical Activity to Health Care Costs among Employees. J. Occup Environ Med. 2004; 46(5): 428-436
  7. Yen l, Schultz AB, Schnueringer E, Edington DW. Financial Costs due to Excess Health Risks among Active employees of a Utility Company. J Occup Environ Med. 2006;48(9):896-905
  8. Henke, R.M., Carls, G.S, Short, M.E., Pei, X, Wang, S., et al. The Relationship between Health Risks and Health and Productivity Costs Among Employees at Pepsi Bottling Group. J Occup Environ Med. 2010;52(5)519-527
  9. Baiker K., Culter D., Song z. Workplace wellness programs can generate savings. Health Affairs. 2010;29(2):304-311

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