Wellness is a business strategy

By Jim Ripple, CPA 

Six factors cause 80 percent of all deaths in our country: 

* Smoking

* High cholesterol

* High blood pressure

* Obesity

* Alcoholism

* Physical inactivity

Because American adults spend more days at work than any other modern country — with no legally mandated vacation minimums — it begs the question of how businesses can impact wellness. 
 
Businesses can use a variety of tactics as part of a wellness strategy:
 
  • Education – Start a wellness program. This may include seminars, health fairs and screenings, or newsletters to educate employees on health matters. 
  • Motivation - Some employers provide non-monetary incentives for healthy behavior. Employers can sponsor exercise or weight loss groups. They can recognize achievements in company newsletters or provide inexpensive rewards (such as sweatshirts) for individuals achieving certain goals.  
  • Compensation - Give bonuses, subsidize the cost of special programs, or pay for the cost of preventative care not otherwise covered by the insurance plan. 
  • Regulation - Enforce some health-related behaviors (by prohibiting on-duty use of tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs). Employer mandates must be directly work-related, consistently communicated and applied, and in compliance with laws protecting employee privacy and disabilities.
Of the six factors noted above, doctors identify smoking as the most avoidable cause of death and disease and note its strong connection with heart disease and cancer. Smokers also consistently have higher health insurance claims than nonsmokers and take longer to recover from illness. But after just five years without smoking, heart disease and cancer risks return to almost normal levels.
 
Talk to your financial advisor or third party administrator about ways to implement cost-saving measures through an employee wellness strategy.
 
Jim Ripple, CPA, is the Audit Manager and serves on the manufacturing niche team of Olsen Thielen, jripple@otcpas.com, 952-941-9242.

 

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