One of the greatest expenses any business can incur is due, directly
or indirectly, to employee health. Any aspect of an employee being
sick affects the business or corporation in a variety of ways.
Billions of dollars of productivity are lost to sickness and disease
every year. In many respects, this loss is accepted as "normal"
and very little is really done to address the most important factors
related to the loss.
Any company has a vested interest in their employees. When a
company hires any individual, they are also taking on the responsibility
to assure that their employee remains healthy, hence, medical
benefits. However, what the business world is failing to realize
is that the employee ALSO has a responsibility that is inherent
in the acceptance of any position. It is quite unfair to businesses
and corporations to bear the financial burden alone, while many
employees continue doing habitual things which GUARANTEE health
problems in the future.
For the employee to expect such excellent health benefits, they
should be willing to do their part to "insure" the greatest
level of health possible. To ignore this part of the health equation
is to throw billions of dollars down the drain, a fraction of
which could create a revolution in productivity and save insurance
costs, lost time and wages, and many other related costs.
SO WHAT IS THE ANSWER?
We are presently noticing a glimmer of change taking place in
this area. For instance, there are some insurance companies that
are beginning to implement some aspects of a wholistic health
plan. They have obviously recognized the potential to save major
money in claims by educating their client's employees and establishing
specific standards to reach for. However, this is far to little
to really address the real issues. It IS better than nothing but
we have a long way to go to see success.
It is imperative that companies begin a health program that includes
education, and focuses on the employee's responsibility in maintaining
their own health. As it is now, most employees look at being "sick"
as a way to not have to go to work, and yet get paid for it. Below
is a basic game plan for businesses to consider implementing to
make some lasting improvements in the health of their employees,
AND to drastically cut their health-related expenses.
This style of program is quite flexible, depending on the goal
of the company or individual. The cost savings would theoretically
be enormous, and productivity would increase. By utilizing financial
rewards for participation, you can gently lead your employees
toward a better level of health. Any costs with doing such a program
would pale compared to the savings. The bottom line is, people
need to start SOMEWHERE, SOMETIME!
- Do an analysis of ALL health related expenses. Itemize this
list into categories such as lost productivity, medical expenses
related to sickness, monthly insurance premiums, etc. Be as
detailed as possible so you know exactly where your money is
- Design an employee health/fitness screening program to determine
the level of health threat each person presents. The company
nutritionist, in association with the company doctor or other
health care professional can use this level to offer various
health programs that match the level of health.
- Incorporate a reward system that encourages the employees
to participate. Have these employees design their own level
of participation so they will be motivated to stick with it.
As part of the program, these employees wouldn't have any cost
sharing in the overall health plan. Those who choose to NOT
participate in the health program would have to pay a premium
on their own health policy and would receive no bonuses or rewards.
For those who are already involved with a program on their own,
or who want to do their own nutritional work can simply fill
out the questionnaire for details of their health lifestyle
and have it verified by the company doctor/nutritionist.
- This whole program could be computerized to track continuing
costs month to month and to build a database for reference.
- The company could hire their own nutritionist/doctor to oversee
this program. The latest research can be utilized to prescribe
the proper general nutritionals for the employees. This could
be part of the company program, as incentive to participate
and improve their health. We are NOT talking about medical treatment
of anything. This is simple, basic, nutritional and fitness
support in the most researched and vital areas of health.