Employers have a vested interest in their employees’ physical wellness. It isn’t just about the bottom line, though that is part of it. Unhealthy employees can be a risk factor for employers, costing them time and money. But there are ways to encourage healthy living among employees, and we’ll outline some of them here. First, let’s take a look at how much unhealthy employees cost businesses in the U.S. each year.
The Cost of Unhealthy Employees
All told, businesses in the United States spend about $530 billion per year as a result of unhealthy employees. That’s according to a study done by the Integrated Benefits Institute. The study looked at absenteeism, presenteeism (when an employee is physically at work but not productive because of health issues), healthcare costs, and disability costs. When you break it down, that comes out to $2076 per employee each year on average.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to these numbers. Obesity alone accounts for $315 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity, according to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Other risk factors include smoking, substance abuse, and mental health issues.
Another common factor in regards to employee health is stress. In fact, stress is the number one reason employees visit the doctor, according to the American Institute of Stress. It’s also been linked to a whole host of health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
So what does all this mean for employers? Quite simply, that promoting physical wellness among employees is good for business. Not only will it save the company money, but it will also lead to a more productive workforce.
How Does Physical Wellness Impact Employees’ Productivity?
It’s not just the cost of healthcare that employers need to be concerned about. Productivity also takes a hit when employees are unhealthy. The same study from the Integrated Benefits Institute found that presenteeism costs businesses $150 billion annually in lost productivity.
There are a number of reasons for this. First, employees who are dealing with health issues tend to take more sick days. They’re also less productive when they are at work. In addition, chronic conditions can lead to early retirement, which can put strain on businesses who have to find and train replacements.
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of benefits to having physically healthy employees as well. For one thing, they’re more likely to be productive. They’re also less likely to take sick days, which saves businesses money. In addition, healthy employees tend to have lower healthcare costs. All of this adds up to a big boost for the bottom line.
According to a recent survey from RAND (a non-profit research organization) and Vitality (a health and wellness solution provider), physical exercise could add five productive days per employee per year. To put that into perspective, that’s an extra week of productivity every year!
The benefit a healthy employee provides to business and net productivity could not be much clearer. Now that that you understand why it is important to have healthy employees, lets talk about how you as an employer can help facilitate healthy living.
Promoting Health Living Among Employees
So what can employers do to mitigate these risks and encourage their employees to live healthier lifestyles? One option is to implement wellness programs with incentives. Many companies offer subsidies for gym memberships, for example. Others will give employees rewards for meeting fitness goals or participating in health screenings.
Another way to encourage healthy living is simply to provide fun activities that get employees moving. This could be anything from a company-wide walking challenge to an office-wide basketball tournament. And of course, you can’t forget about food. Providing healthy snacks and meals is a great way to show your employees that you care about their wellbeing.
There are a lot of different ways to encourage physical wellness in the workplace. And there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. What matters most is that you make an effort to promote healthy living among your employees. By doing so, you’ll not only improve their wellbeing but also boost your bottom line.
An important note to consider: no matter what initiative you pick, keep in mind that a person’s size and form are not reliable indicators of health, and that good health should never be a determining factor in one’s employment worth. Make sure your services are accessible and optional to ensure that your workers feel welcome but not compelled to participate.
If you are interested into getting a better gauge on the health of your workforce, you are in the right place. Envision Clinical Labs offers On-site biometric screening events provided for your employees in the state of Georgia
Be sure to check read our recent post on the other piece of employee wellness; Mental Health in the Workplace!