The Benefits

Companies are increasingly implementing corporate wellness programs in order to improve the overall health of their workers and to increase the bottom line. In fact, 86% of companies with more than 50 employees have incorporated wellness programs. Companies who have implemented wellness programs are experiencing major benefits -- from lower health care costs and reduced absenteeism, to greater productivity, higher morale -- and a positive return on investment. Many companies are reporting double digit decreases in sick leave, hospital admissions, disability days and per capita workers compensation costs as a result of their implementation of a corporate wellness program.

Reduced Health Care Costs

Companies who implement wellness programs consistently find that their health care costs are reduced, and that there is a significant difference in medical claims between exercising employees and non-exercising employees.

Increased Productivity

Medical professionals often recommend regular exercise to their patients as a means to improve one's ability to perform, reduce stress, and to enhance one's self-image. These improvements to the individual and how they relate to improved job performance are sometimes hard to quantify. However, many organizations credit the implementation of corporate fitness programs for productivity gains in the following areas:

  • Improved Decision-Making
  • Improved Efficiency
  • Reduced Mental Errors
  • Reduced Employee Turnover
  • Improved Staff Quality
  • Decreased Absenteeism & Disability Time

The cost-effectiveness of corporate wellness programs is based on the premise that employees with health risk factors, such as high blood pressure or a sedentary lifestyle, are more likely to incur medical expenses. And recent research has revealed that "psychosocial" risk factors are associated just as closely -- if not more so -- with high costs. One study showed the following results:

  • People who report being depressed have health care expenditures70% higher than others
  • Those that say that they have a lot of stress, 46% higher
  • People with abnormal body weight, 21% higher
  • Smokers, 14% higher
  • People with elevated blood pressure, 12% higher
  • Those with a sedentary lifestyle, 10% higher
  • Employees with multiple risk factors for heart disease, 228% higher
  • Those with multiple psychosocial symptoms had expenses, 147% higher

Given these statistics, it makes sense for employers to provide a means for employees to improve their health. The most effective way to reduce the costs of your health insurance benefits, while still providing comprehensive health care coverage, is to integrate a corporate wellness strategy into the health plan. Hundreds of studies have been published over the last 10 to 15 years on the cost-effectiveness of Corporate Wellness programs.

In 1999 a major study of Citibank employees sought to determine the financial impact of a wellness program. The corporation realized a return on investment (ROI) greater than $4.50 for every dollar spent. Additional studies have shown similar results, with ROIs ranging from 3.40:1 to 4.75:1.

A review of 32 studies of corporate wellness programs, published in 1997, found that for all participants included in the studies:

  • Claims costs were reduced by 27.8%
  • Physician visits declined by 16.5%
  • Hospital admissions declined by 62.5%
  • Disability costs were reduced by 34.4%
  • The incidence of injury declined by 24.8%

Besides the reduced use of health insurance, other benefits of Corporate Wellness programs include:

  • Reduced sick leave/absenteeism
  • Improved productivity
  • Reduced workers' compensation claims
  • Fewer injuries
  • Attraction and retention of the most effective employees
  • Improved employee morale
  • Enhanced attitude of employees toward their employer

References

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