The question hangs over HR: Do employees really understand their benefits? And, overwhelmingly, HR managers think the answer is “No.”
A Corporate Synergies Quick Poll asked 100 HR managers if they believe their plan participants understand the impact of their lifestyle and utilization decisions on their overall cost of benefits. Eighty-four percent of respondents said “no,” and only eight percent said “yes.”
It’s HR’s job to fix this disconnect. By better educating your workforce, you’re benefitting your organization by helping to develop a healthier, more productive workforce.
The stakes are huge.
Studies show that heading off chronic disease at the pass is the only truly effective way to prevent life-shortening and cost-increasing maladies like diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Future illness due to a lack of long-term understanding is a hidden cost to your organization. How do you help fix it?
Begin with understanding your workforce’s specific needs. Your employee population segments have vastly different needs depending on age, gender and lifestyle. There is no such thing as one size fits all. The health profile for a 25-year-old physically fit male couldn’t be more different from a female employee twice his age. Risk factors increase with every year of an employee’s life. Wouldn’t it be ideal to capture that healthy 25-year-old and promote positive lifestyle choices? Not only does individual longevity increase, but a worker free of chronic disease is far more productive, with fewer sick days and/or leaves of absence.
Where does the blame for chronic illness lie? Not in any one place, and not with any one person. America’s romance with highly processed food has done a great disservice to the national health profile. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of US adults are obese. More than 27 million American adults suffer from heart disease, and almost 25 million Americans – about eight percent – are diabetic.
These numbers point to a dramatic increase in your company’s insurance costs. An emphasis on wellness is the first line of defense against those costs. With that in mind, smart employers are establishing wellness programs and disease prevention policies now. A healthier workforce isn’t just a “nice to have” opportunity. It’s becoming a business imperative.