The Burden of an Unhealthy Workforce
The Financial Impact of Unhealthy Employees
One of the most dire issues facing our society today is the prevalence of preventable chronic diseases. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and depression account for over 70% of all deaths in America annually, and $3 out of every $4 spent on healthcare nationwide. The economic impact of chronic disease is not exclusive to the healthcare sector; these conditions take a very real and very significant toll on businesses as well. The presence of chronic health conditions increases absenteeism in the work place while also negatively impacting on-the-job performance. Furthermore, maintaining a workforce wherein the prevalence of chronic disease is high leads to a significant increase in health care expenses that, in many cases, the employer must take at least partial financial responsibility for.
A 2005 study examined the impact of these conditions on a chemical company in Michigan.1 Over 63% of employees had at least one condition and as a result lost between 0.9 and 5.9 hours of productivity per week while showing a 36% decrease in overall ability to function. Even more alarming, the research found that in 2002 dollars, depression cost the employer $18,864 in absenteeism, work impairment, and medical costs per employee reporting depression as their primary condition.
Reversing the Trend
While the impact of these chronic conditions is substantial and daunting, there is good news – most of these conditions and their impacts are reversible through lifestyle modification, such as exercise, nutrition, and stress management. Regular exercise, for example, has been shown to decrease depressive symptoms by over 60%. Incorporating employee wellness programs, like those offered by Inspire Wellness Solutions, have been shown to have significant impacts on employee health, as well as large returns on investment for employers. In fact, a study of 22 employee wellness programs in 2010 found the ROI for employers as high as $15.60, with an average ROI of $3.24.