It’s no secret to you that keeping healthy is a hugely important but easily overlooked aspect of the workplace. These days though, more and more employers are recognizing the advantages that come with actively developing a health-friendly working environment and the healthy workforce it can create, not least because of the savings that can be made to the costs involved in offering health benefits.
A good health plan is an essential part of any good employment contract, but the costs of offering an attractive plan to employees and prospective employees alike can be staggering. Unfortunately, health insurance companies don’t differentiate between the different types of industries, meaning that health risks in the office-based service industry are measured by the same criteria that health risks in the factory-based manufacturing industry are measured by.
That may seem unfair – and most business owners will say it is – but there is no reason to focus on the negative. The reality is that the cost of health insurance can be reduced drastically, regardless of the industry you’re company is in, by establishing a health-friendly working environment. In a healthy workplace the number of perceived health risks are reduced, which also mean that the premiums of the available health plans are cut.
High Premiums and Bad Health
The connection between high premiums and bad health is rather logical, but a study was carried out by renowned health researcher Dr. Dee Edington, Ph.D., over a five-year period up to 2002 which provided clear statistics supporting the relationship. It showed that 80% of employees and spouses took a biometric health-risk assessment once each year within the period. Some 70% of those assessed were found to have up to 2 conditions that are clear health risks, such as obesity, diabetes, and elevated total cholesterol levels.
What this means is that these employees create a higher chance of a health insurance claim being made, which, unfortunately for cost-wary CFOs, means a higher health plan premium must be paid.
Incentives to Better Health
It only makes sense then that more and more progressive businesses have adopted workplace wellness activities as part of their overall business strategy. Where once companies viewed healthy offices and work places as a public relations matter, they now see it as sound business.
Incentives are being offered for groups of employees and their spouses (80% compliance is preferred) to take part in biometric screening, establishing what the chief health risks are. Tests for obesity, elevated blood pressure and elevated blood glucose levels allows for the early detection and treatment of these common risk factors. These aggregate health risk assessments can provide a basis from which health promotion strategies can be taken, and provide a comparison to show improvement and, in turn, encourage premiums to fall.
Insurers also recognize the benefits of companies taking a pro-active approach to health in the workplace. Some offer discounts to members who actively participate in screenings and activities, and reduce the risk factors. A perfect example is “Healthy Blue Living,” which has been available from “The Blue Care Network” since 2006 and offers a 10% discount to businesses in Michigan State that establish a smoke-free workplace and healthy working environment. It is possible that insurers in your area are offering a similar scheme, so be sure to find out if there are.
What Can You Do?
Ask yourself what’s your current health plan and what wellness activities already exist in your workplace? Are they integrated so you get the most out of the health plan that’s in place? If not, then what can you do to make it so? Speak to Senior Management and make sure it is on board, as its support is vital for any screening program, or fitness assessment. You may also need to get funding for any workplace wellness activities that you decide to promote. Contact your insurer or insurance agent to find out what plan options you have, and get advice on how best to integrate wellness activities.
Outsource your corporate wellness program to a company like, Calgary Corporate Fitness! Our team of experienced health, fitness and wellness professionals can provide you with all the tools to plan an effective wellness program from start to finish.