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Risk in Context

How Corporate Wellness Programs Can Improve Your Bottom Line

Posted by Thomas F. Ryan December 24, 2015

With the New Year just around the corner, many Americans will be making resolutions related to their health. Through a corporate wellness program, employers can help workers achieve those goals, while potentially cutting costs, including those related to workers’ compensation.

What’s in a Wellness Program?

Employee wellness programs can help your employees lose weight, reduce their chances of certain diseases, and help them avoid workplace injury by encouraging them to take charge of their fitness, including addressing chronic health issues.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach, common elements of corporate wellness programs include:

  • Health risk assessments and biometric screenings.
  • Targeted intervention programs — for example, to help employees quit smoking.
  • Onsite gyms, personal trainers, and physical therapists.
  • Stress relief techniques, such as meditation.
  • Onsite cafeterias, which may present an opportunity to introduce or enhance nutrition programs.

A wellness program should consider the concept of the "whole worker” on a 24-hour basis; that means encouraging healthy behavior at all times. Many employers have also had success in combining wellness programs with occupational safety and health programs, and some are exploring the safety and wellness applications of fitness bands and other forms of wearable technology.

Reaping the Rewards

Over time, employee wellness programs can help organizations improve the efficiency of their workers’ compensation programs in several ways, mainly through:

  1. Reduced rates of injury. Overweight and obese workers are more likely to suffer traumatic workplace injuries, according to a study published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  2. Lower medical costs. Medical costs for injured employees who do not suffer from obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions are about half of those for employees with such conditions, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).
  3. Fewer and shorter absences. Workers’ compensation claims for employees with obesity are four times more likely to include time away from work, according to NCCI. Diabetes and hypertension also increase the likelihood of an injured employee requiring time away from work, and these chronic health problems can also complicate and extend recovery periods.

By investing in the health and fitness of your workforce, you can reduce the likelihood of workplace injuries and lower the cost of workers’ compensation claims — helping both your employees and your bottom line.

For more about this topic, listen to the replay of our recent Workers’ Compensation Center of Excellence webcast, Workers' Compensation: Looking Ahead to 2016.

Related to:  Workers' Compensation

Thomas F. Ryan

Tom Ryan is a managing director and Market Research Leader in Marsh’s Workers’ Compensation Center of Excellence. He is responsible for developing market research, insight, and other content on emerging issues, trends, regulatory, and other changes that affect the workers’ compensation market.