Targeting the predominant health risks in your workforce saves money
Employers can reduce their medical costs and improve productivity by targeting specific health risks among workers, according to a new study published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine.
Researchers looked at the top modifiable health risks among employees at a large corporation to determine their health-and productivity- related expenditures. They also predicted potential cost savings from reducing risk prevalence among the employees.
Based on previous studies showing much of the overall health care costs are attributable to certain factors, the researchers examined the following health risks among the employees:
- Overweight/ obesity
- High blood pressure
- High blood glucose
- High cholesterol
- Inadequate exercise
- Poor nutrition
- Poor emotional health
- High triglycerides
- Poor safety practices
- Tobacco use
- High alcohol consumption
The research found that obesity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, high triglycerides and inadequate exercise had the greatest impact on total medical care costs. With average obesity exceeding 30% of the make and female population, according to the CDC, and medical costs associated with obesity rising 60% since 1991, it is a growing problem for many employers.
The study also looked at productivity costs, including absenteeism noting that research has estimated annual costs due to lost productivity time at $1392 to $2592 per employee at risk. In this case, depression or poor emotional health was a significant predictor of higher medical costs, as well as absenteeism. In fact, the study concluded that the “strongest potential for (lack of absenteeism) savings lies in reducing emotional health risks” for the unidentified large Midwestern employers.
While risk factors will vary by industry, location, health and wellness programs, etc., according to a SHRM Foundation report Promoting Employee Well-Being, Research suggests that American workplaces will display patterns similar to those listed below.
|Risk/ Condition||% of Workers||Excess Costs for High Risk Adults|
|Low intake of fruit and vegetables||76.6%||$656|
|High Blood Pressure||28.7%||$447|
Understanding the prevalence of these factors among your workforce, along with the costs, is an effective way to identify health challenges and set priorities.
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