The accelerating pace of healthcare costs requires every businesses’ attention.
Rising healthcare costs are a national crisis. Healthcare costs have jumped to over $3 trillion in annual expenditures.
That is equal to over 17% of our annual GDP. Health spending is growing at 5+% annual rate. About half of health expenditures is paid for by households and the federal government. The rest was paid by businesses, state/local governments and individuals.
Personal choices are a major factor in driving up health care costs.
For example, we are in a national weight crisis. Our weight gain has resulted in a national obesity and diabetes epidemic. This epidemic is different than flu epidemic. This weight crisis is tied to our personal choices on diet and exercise. Our weight gain is also driven by our lives that are increasingly being defined by stress and sitting.
The small business challenge is what to do?
Should a business get involved in work associates’ personal choices even if they impact the company’s costs?
If stress, diet and sitting are drivers behind increasing health care costs then how should a business structure its work place?
Workplace wellness programs can a tool for a business attempting to answer these questions.
Examples of workplace wellness programs
There is broad range in workplace wellness program design and implementation. A notable few businesses offer a holistic set of actions to engage and enable the broadest range of work associates. Most businesses do not.
The three most common activities offered through a workplace wellness programs are:
1. Health screening to build a data base on an individual’s key body functions like heart rate, blood sugar levels, etc.
2. Participation in stop smoking coaching and provision of stop smoking products
3. Exercise focused programs that can range gym memberships to onsite yoga classes.</li>
Workplace health program participation has conflicting results
An increasing number of companies now offer workplace wellness programs.
Eighty percent of work associates in larger companies have participated in a company workplace health program. However, among smaller companies, there is less use of workplace wellness programs. Only an estimated 33 percent of small employers have a wellness program in place.
Among small businesses offering a wellness program, 70 percent of these programs were categorized as having a limited scale.
Cost was cited as the determining factor among small businesses for having, or not having, a work associate wellness program.
Next- Mixed results from work associate incentives