A healthy ROI

They say you don’t have anything if
you don’t have your health. As
employers focus more and more on productivity in tight times, they’re
realizing how important the health of
employees truly is. The link between
wellness and productivity is clear; the
impact on a company’s financials creates
even more incentive to implement a formal wellness program in the workplace.

“That’s the ultimate goal of wellness: to
lower the costs for the employee and the
company,” says John Tolan, an employee
benefits agent with Sapoznik Insurance.
“It’s twofold — you’re maintaining the
health care costs from going up, so
you’re going to help out your bottom
line, but also there’s that hidden bottom
line of dollars lost due to absenteeism or
lack of production.”

Smart Business learned more from
Tolan about the effect of wellness programs on a company’s health care costs
and workplace productivity.

What type of benefits will businesses see
from implementing a wellness program?

Absenteeism is reduced greatly. A
healthier work force is a more productive work force. The concept that an
employee is a healthy employee has a
huge effect. Prevention and education,
over time, lower health care premiums
— that is a fact. Productivity at work is
also improved because employees are
not missing days and are not taking time
off during work to go treat an illness.
Let’s say an average employee is making
$25 an hour and is taking three hours off
this week. It’s costing the company in
payroll, plus untold hours are being lost
in productivity. These numbers can be
huge.

What are some ways employers can impact
their employees’ health?

They need to have interventions aimed
at prevention and early detection and do
best-practice treatment of workers.
Putting those programs in place will
make your company healthier and more
productive. If employees become aware
of their own wellness and lifestyle and
change those things, national trends suggest that their self-esteem improves,
their confidence rises, their work productivity increases and there’s less
absenteeism.

Do wellness programs pay off through
lower insurance rates, as well?

Just because you all of a sudden put in
a wellness program does not guarantee a
percentage of savings, per se. Although
the impact of lower rates will not be felt immediately, over time statistics suggest
that there will be a gradual decrease in
rates. Nationally, companies that have
put proactive programs in place have
been able to see much lower rate
increases than those companies that do
not.

How can companies up their chances of
seeing ROI?

There are many companies out there
that are making it mandated that their
employees have their once-a-year wellness visit, and those employees who do
not will then be charged higher insurance costs. The reason some carriers do
this is because, by not performing an
early detection, you’re going to have a
far greater risk later on, which will then
affect all employees through higher
health care costs. So there are companies out there making it mandatory that
you go see your doctor and have wellness visits because they know it will
have a positive effect on their renewals.

Other companies have taken it further
and are implementing employee assistance programs (EAP) as part of their
complete employee benefits program.
Family concerns, medical issues or personal situations can have far-reaching
effects on an employee. Companies that
provide the appropriate channels,
including proactive wellness initiatives,
EAP programs and wellness education,
are taking the first steps toward curbing
the escalating rise of health care costs
and watching their return on their
investment pay off within the next several years.

JOHN TOLAN is an employee benefits agent at Sapoznik Insurance. Reach him at (877) 948-8887 or [email protected].

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