Advantages of Corporate Wellness Programs

Advantages of Corporate Wellness Programs

Advantages of Corporate Wellness Programs

There are many advantages of Corporate Wellness Programs, especially those focused on prevention and interventions that reduce employees’ health risk factors can result in benefits for both the employee and the employer. There is scientific evidence that a correlation exists between an individual’s unhealthy lifestyle and injury, disability and certain chronic illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension, strokes and premature mortality. Some health risk factors that are the precursors to disease and disability include:

  • smoking cigarettes,
  • being overweight, obesity and lack of exercise,
  • eating a diet high in saturated fats,
  • responding inappropriately to stress situations, and,
  • chemical dependencies.

The U.S. Public Health Service recently issued a report titled “Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General” which provides a comprehensive review of the available scientific evidence about the relationship between physical activity and an individual’s health status. The report shows that over 67% of Americans are not regularly active and 25% are not active at all. There is very strong evidence linking physical activity to numerous health improvements. Regular physical activity can lead to improved health and a better quality of life by:

  • reducing the risk of dying from coronary heart disease,
  • reducing the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension and colon cancer,
  • helping to control weight, and
  • enhancing mental health by reducing feelings of depression and anxiety.

While unhealthy behavior and lifestyle can greatly affect an individual’s health, it can also directly impact the employer’s workers’ compensation and health care costs. Indirect costs associated with employee’s unhealthy lifestyles include:

  • decreased productivity,
  • work related injuries,
  • excessive sick leave usage and
  • increased absenteeism.

There is significant evidence demonstrating the advantages of corporate wellness programs and the long-term savings to the employer when employees are given an opportunity to take a personal interest in their own health and an active role in corporate wellness program activities. According to the U.S. Organization of Health and Human Services, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of mortality in the United States each year. To increase and promote physical activity, educating employees in effective ways to reduce risk factors for chronic heart disease could result in a substantial saving in health care costs.

Encouraging Heart Health Cuts Costs

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death and medical expense in the United States. Last year alone, heart disease accounted for more than $137 billion in national medical costs and lost productivity. By providing corporate wellness program activities, we can help reduce our employees’ risk for heart disease, increase productivity and morale, and reduce health insurance costs.

Controlling Health Risk Factors Increases Employee Productivity

One of the major advantages of corporate wellness programs is that for every dollar spent on a corporate wellness programs, a company can save as much as $6 in insurance costs. In Canada, a wellness program promoting physical activity in a selected worksite was evaluated after 12 years of operation. For each worker, the wellness program saved $679 in medical claims per year, a return of $6.85 on each dollar invested.

Studies by the University of Michigan and Johnson & Johnson show more advantages of corporate wellness programs including:

  • $1,100 a year for every employee who kicks the smoking habit,
  • $269 a year for every employee who progresses from couch potato to fitness enthusiast;
  • $1,200 a year on employees who reduce their cholesterol levels from 240 milligrams to 190 milligrams, and
  • $177 a year for every employee who goes from obesity (more than 30 pounds overweight) to a healthy weight.

According to separate studies by the University of Michigan and Steelcase, corporate wellness programs can reduce costs for serious illnesses, such as heart disease, by identifying high-risk employees and encouraging them to change their behaviors. Most wellness experts agree that a Corporate Wellness Program is the best way to achieve this goal.

Advantages of Corporate Wellness Programs: Success Stories

COMPANY Wellness Programs Wellness Program Return on Investment (ROI)
AETNA:  Financial & Investment Services State-of-the-art health clubs $282.00 for each employee enrolled
Union Pacific Corporation Health Risk Assessments promoting lifestyle changes $3.6 million dollars per year
Steelcase:  A Smarter Way to Work Health Risk Assessments promoting lifestyle changes $20 million dollars over ten years (estimated)
Johnson & Johnson:  Family of Companies Health Risk Assessments promoting lifestyle changes $13 million dollars per year

Based upon the positive return on investment of these and other employers’ and the numerous advantages of Corporate Wellness Programs, wellness experts expect that the implementation of Corporate Wellness Programs within businesses will lead to the following: a healthier work force, a higher quality work product, improved employee morale, reduced sick leave usage and absenteeism and lower health care and workers’ compensation costs.