The importance of successful employee wellness programs

By Kelsey Brimmer, First Posted on HealthCareFinanceNews.com, December 07, 2012

PORTLAND, ME – With healthcare costs and chronic disease rates continually rising each year, it will only become more difficult for both employees and employers (who must pay to insure their employees) to keep up financially, which is why successful employee wellness programs are becoming an increasingly important asset in the workplace.

During a presentation at the Maine Health Management Coalition’s (MHMC) “Leading Maine to Better Health” conference on Thursday in Portland, Maine, Jerry Noyce, president and CEO of the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), discussed the ways in which successful employee wellness programs can positively affect both a company’s spend on employee healthcare and the productivity level of employees.

“With employee pay typically rising 3 percent per year, compare a 19 percent pay increase to an 82 percent healthcare cost increase over the past five years. And experts estimate that healthcare costs will continue to rise at 8-9 percent each year,” said Noyce during his presentation.

Noyce added that poor health of employees adds to higher absenteeism, higher disability costs, higher employee turnover rates, more customer dissatisfaction and variable product quality – all important reasons to implement an employee wellness program.

In 2008, HERO began a collaboration with Mercer, an employee health consulting firm, on the HERO Best Practice Scorecard, which includes a checklist of employee health program components, activities and outcomes to give employers information they can use to help decide how to invest in their own programs, according to Noyce. As of September 2012, 788 employers have used the scorecard to implement their own employee wellness programs, and so far, 45 percent of those employers have reported an improvement in medical plan costs due to the programs with another 32 percent that have yet to measure their results, he added.

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