How HR can tackle rising health care costs

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Health care costs are on the rise. Benefits, sick leaves, stress leaves, mental wellness concerns. The costs are getting to the point that a lot of organizations have to pull back in what they offer. Or they need to change the cost sharing so the employee is now paying more and getting less coverage.   
 
Exercise is truly one of the best things your employees can do. Participating in a regular exercise program not only keeps people physically strong and healthy but mentally as well. By focusing on prevention you can reduce sick days and other leaves.
 
Why do wellness programs fail?

There are many reasons why a program may not be working at its full potential at your organization. Setting a defined strategy can be a missed step by many. Too often wellness programs are built in silos and lack integration with business metrics. For example, if stress is a top concern for your organization, offering stress management or coping skills would be a good fit for your wellness program. It’s also important for the employer to understand and address the stress drivers in their own organization. Employers underestimate the prevalence of chronic disease in their workplace and underestimate the positive impact they can have on employee health (screening for risk, offering programs and services for self-management of a condition).
 
Benefits of building a wellness strategy

Moving an employee from sedentary to active can save an organization $4,629 annually in health benefit costs relating to absenteeism, drug costs and productivity1. It’s important for organizations today to realize they play a key role here and can help improve their employees’ quality of life. Improved mental health, reduced depression, anxiety and stress are all benefits of regular physical activity. Other benefits of exercise are; reduced symptoms of fatigue, enhanced mood, increased quality of life and life satisfaction2.
 
When implementing or changing your wellness strategy there can be struggles. Struggles can be not only from an organization, but employees too. It’s our job to communicate the great benefits of a healthier lifestyle to our employees. We want them to be happy and healthy so they can do their absolute best at work. The most common barriers to adopting healthier behaviours can be lack of willpower (cited by 61% of Canadians), followed by lack of time (46%) and lack of money (39%) 3. Workplace wellness programs can address all three barriers.
 
What can you do?

As HR professionals we take care of our employees and want to provide a healthy work environment. When your employees are happy and healthy they will do their best work. Look into your wellness programs and employee benefits to see what can be added to benefit your employees and help them live their best life.

1. Chenoweth et al: The Economics of Physical Inactivity, Obesity & Overweight in California Adults, 2008
2. Helen E. Brown et al. Does Physical Activity Impact on Presenteeism and Other Indicators of Workplace Well-being?, Sports Med. Vol 41, No.3, 2011, p.249.
3. Canadian Health Index Survey, 2010


 

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