Corporate wellness plans have been helping companies realize improved attitudes toward wellness in their workforce. For those companies embracing such plans and promoting participation to its employees, many costs savings have been recognized. Significant reductions in disability and worker compensation costs as well as insurance premium reductions have dropped right to the bottom line. More importantly, it has been recognized that employees participating in employer sponsored health and wellness options are happier, more willing to show up and bring with them a positive attitude that can be contagious to the rest of the work force.
Obesity in the work place is the most concerning issue. It is a serious problem in the US and we have only seen the rates increasing over the last three decades. People with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher are obese and more likely to develop heart disease and face early death. Studies have demonstrated that obese workers file twice the number of workers’ compensation claims and had more than five times the medical costs for those claims and lost 10 times more work days due to illness or injuries sustained at work. It is easy to see the opportunity that could emerge out of a work force that undertakes the health and wellness improvement challenge.
Dee Edington of the University of Michigan, one of the first scientists to study the relationship between risk factors and health care costs, believes employers need to do all they can to “keep the healthy, healthy”. Without intervention, over time people tend to move from lower risk to higher risk. It is important to encourage those with healthy lifestyles to continue their pursuit of smart choices.
Individual risk factors for illness and disease vary among people. The more risk factors an individual has, the more they will spend on health care. Although factors such as age, gender and family history cannot be controlled by us, there is that other set of risk factors (diet, exercise and lifestyle choices) that we can do something about to prolong our lives. Decades of wrong choices that influence the factors we do control has led to a generation of obese adults. The corporate challenge is to begin reversing the trend by educating and offering comprehensive weight loss and behavior management programs to its most important resource, its employees.
At New Horizon Medical, weight loss success comes from exercise and behavior management. It is the combination that is so important and the ability to adapt to new choices that will pay big dividends over the long run. Changing the view from hating exercise to looking forward to exercise is no easy feat, but once the mind has accepted the new premise as fun and beneficial, then progress is enabled. It is interesting to see how recognition of progress can lead to motivation. People really get excited when they see weight come off. They feel in control and are excited about the fact that they can begin to dream again. This optimism carries forward to work and to home with renewed vitality. Isn’t this what we would like to see with every employee?