By Tim State
My grandmother said, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” Who could argue?
Health is the backbone of our lives. It enables us to perform at work and enjoy our personal lives. Yet our collective health trajectory today makes one wonder if we’re taking that axiom seriously enough. In recent years we have seen an epidemic of chronic, lifestyle-driven diseases and conditions become a huge part of our nation’s health reality.
Largely behavior-based and preventable, chronic conditions drive most health care costs today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 86 percent of all health care spending in 2010 was on people with one or more chronic medical conditions. These conditions reduce our healthy days and productivity while increasing suffering and burden. Health care providers have increasingly taken steps to address these chronic health problems and provide the guidance people need to maintain healthy lifestyles.
My grandma was right. And we can do better than this.
Workplace influence could ultimately be more essential to long-term population health progress than employers’ collective sway with stakeholders. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor sponsored a study on workplace wellness programs, and found that wellness in the workplace can successfully improve and manage lifestyle factors that negatively impact workers’ health destinies, such as smoking, heart disease, and nutrition.
In this case, what’s good for society is even better for employers. Most organizations these days are boosting employee engagement and productivity, reducing health costs, and inspiring their workforce. Through a sense of community and shared purpose, they are building a culture that elevates health and overall well-being to create a sense of community that drives the employee experience.
We believe we have a duty to encourage our associates to maintain healthy lifestyles and to develop an environment that fosters this way of life. Experiences like our 100 Day Dash, an annual step challenge, encourages associates to get moving and have fun. Since 2012 our wellness and rewards program, and other associate experiences have made a difference:
Humana is not alone. As other organizations make real strides and as the evidence grows, leading businesses and policy organizations realize an important connection between the health and well-being of an organization’s people, and its ability to achieve and sustain business results.
In a study published this year, researchers found that companies winning evidence-based awards for workplace well-being outpaced S&P financial performance by 7 to 16 percent per year. A sustainable workforce requires people who are able to engage fully, weather adversity, build positive relationships, and be fully present to create value. As organizations help build a thriving, healthy U.S. workforce, they’ll be better positioned to deliver for consumers and shareholders in a more sustainable society.
Image credit: Pixabay
Tim State is Humana’s Enterprise Vice-President, Associate Health & Well-being