Philadelphia, PA – Independence Blue Cross (IBC) has issued a report that concludes well-designed wellness programs lead to healthier, more productive employees, and that in turn translates to a healthier bottom line for their employers.
“Devoting time and resources to a wellness program becomes a strategic investment in both the company’s present and future,” said Kimberly Eberbach, IBC’s vice president, Wellness and Community Health. “Employees who aren’t healthy have lower levels of productivity and higher health costs. Employers end up bearing the extra costs, both in higher premiums and lower output.”
The report, entitled Employee Wellness as a Strategic Business Imperative, says the rewards of wellness programs – and the reason organizations are offering them — go far beyond reducing the price of employee benefits. These programs can also generate competitive advantages like employee retention, higher morale, and more engaged employees.
Satisfied, healthy employees have lower turnover rates and lower health expenses. In fact, according to a survey by the World Economic Forum, 64 percent of workers who say they are satisfied with their company’s wellness program plan to stay a minimum of five years at that company.
The issue of improving employees’ health is especially relevant in Philadelphia County, which according to a recent University of Wisconsin report ranked the least healthy of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Delaware County fares just slightly better with a ranking of 41. States, cities, and towns recognize that a community’s health affects its ability to attract and retain business and talent, according to experts cited in the IBC report. Companies want to do business in a city where their potential workforce is healthy, with lower health care costs and higher productivity.
IBC offers comprehensive, clinically-based wellness programs modeled on the seven-step benchmark approach, inspired by The Wellness Council of America, which include capturing CEO support, creating wellness teams, collecting data to drive the program, and creating a supportive environment.
“Buy-in from senior leadership must drive the program,” Eberbach said. “For wellness programs to truly succeed, they have to help employees take charge of their own health through sustained behavioral changes. Wellness programs can help create an awareness of health risks, but the ultimate measure of success is empowering employees to consistently care for themselves.”
The report notes that the use of incentives can enable employees to become more involved with caring for their health. It can also generate substantial payback for employers by promoting employee engagement. A survey of 1,400 employers cited in the IBC report showed that the participation rate of employees who completed a health risk survey was 48% with incentives, compared to a participation rate of 34% without incentives.
Recognizing the critical need for employee wellness initiatives, IBC designs programs driven by the goals of a given organization. IBC guides companies through developing and launching their programs and then adds ongoing support to achieve successful results.
Organizations that want more information on employee wellness programs can talk with their broker or IBC representative, or they may call 215–241–2263 (fewer than 300 employees) or 215–241–4773 (more than 300 employees).