As I was eating a doughnut and drinking my coffee this morning, I read some very interesting statistics related to the health of employee populations. It occurred to me that as we see an increasing trend in the number of work-related injuries, there is a question as to how much is related to the overall health of workers.
First, you should know why these statistics are so important. Defining a problem and understanding the effects of improvement (or not changing) gives you knowledge to make better business decisions to improve your company's bottom line. I believe it is fair to say the vast majority of employers want a healthy work population. But even if you are not one who has placed a high premium on the personal health of employees, maybe you should. Did you know that under PPACA (aka ObamaCare), employers do have some control over incentivizing the overall health of their workers? PPACA empowers employers to use the financial incentives necessary to fully engage employees in consumer-based health initiatives. In 2014, employers will be able to differentiate the employee’s insurance premium contributions up to 30 percent for wellness participation and 50 percent for smokers.
You may be asking, "How bad is the overall health of my workforce?" According to the Centers for Disease Control, for every 100 workers:
- 60 have no leisure-time activity
- Eight to 10 have diabetes… and two to three are unaware
- 15 are bothered by excess stress
- 12 are heavy drinkers
- 40 to 45 have high cholesterol levels
- 23 use tobacco products
- 50 have high risk for heart disease
- 25 have high blood pressure.
If this isn't enough to make a case for improving the overall health of your workforce, consider that a combination of high LDLs (the bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, obesity and high blood sugars combine to define what is known as metabolic syndrome. Those with this deadly combination are seven times more likely to get diabetes, three times more likely to get heart disease, and twice as likely to have a stroke. They spend four times more on medication and have twice as many lost work days.
How common is this syndrome? In a study from the State of Kentucky, 42 percent of the workforce was found to have metabolic disorder. Individuals with this syndrome average twice as much per year in medical costs and are seven to ten times more likely to be a high-cost claimant within your insurance plan.
What is the take-home message from all of this? Find ways to improve the overall health of your employee population. Take time to research wellness programs and offer employees opportunities to learn about their own health. The resources you invest in the overall health of your employees will likely come back in many positive ways in your company, not the least of which is financially. iBi