Studies show that lifestyle-based diseases are the most common reason for most deaths across the globe. A study by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine reported that after following a healthy lifestyle for around 6 months, a healthy male adult lose around 200 pounds and was able to save almost $92,000 by avoiding different medical costs. A previously compiled research study revealed that companies save up to $730 billion on modifiable health risks by improving lifestyle habits.
Of the different lifestyle-based diseases, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) — including heart disease and stroke, have been concluded to be the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 18.6 million lives annually. These conditions have been ranked among the top three most expensive condition groups that employers face.
According to a CDC report, the annual cost of cardiovascular health of U.S. employees was around $363 billion, including $216 billion in direct medical costs and $147 billion due to indirect costs like lost productivity and absenteeism.
The most common risk factors for CVD include –
- High cholesterol levels
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco use
- Higher stress levels
Fortunately, research provides many different ways how employers can care for their workforce’s heart health and reduce the influence of the above risk factors. By offering employee wellness programs that allow virtual or on-site screenings and primary care integrated with mental health programs, workforce health can be improved, thus, reducing CVD healthcare spending.
How Corporate Wellness Programs Boost Heart Health?
Employers are in a prime position to influence employees’ health. This is especially true when it comes to cardiovascular disease risk factors, which can be reduced through lifestyle choices like diet and exercise. Employers can help reduce their health costs by encouraging employees to make healthy choices.
Wellness initiatives, like corporate wellness programs, that promote employee health can save companies money on healthcare costs and increase productivity. One study found that for every dollar spent on a wellness program, companies saved $2.30 in medical costs. And, employee wellness programs are one way employers can help their employees reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Here are a few easy-to-implement wellness challenge ideas that promote healthy habits for cardiovascular health and holistic wellbeing.
- Encourage healthy habits at work.
- Offer free health screenings and education on heart health.
- Promote healthy eating habits by providing nutritious food options in vending machines or the cafeteria.
- Employers can help employees maintain a healthy weight by providing offering free gym memberships, yoga sessions, on-site fitness centers, discounted fitness classes, or subsidizing healthy lunch options.
- Promote physical activity at work by encouraging participation in health-related activities like walking meetings or biking to work.
- Provide incentives for health-focused activities like weight loss or smoking cessation. While employers can’t force their employees to make healthy choices, they can provide incentives to encourage them.
- Hold community events that promote heart health.
- Provide financial incentives for employees who participate in healthy activities.
- Offer smoking cessation programs and make your workplace a smoke-free zone.
- Provide better sleep and stress management programs.
- Implement workplace policies for flexible schedules and vacation time off to encourage work-life balance.
- Encourage employees to take breaks during the day and get some exercise outside of work hours.
- Support policies that encourage walking and biking as modes of transportation.
- Some employers offer health coaching as part of their benefits packages.
- Create a healthy and positive workplace culture.
Some employers offer incentives to employees who reach certain health goals, like losing weight, or quitting smoking, or for employees who maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Employers who offered well-designed employee wellness programs saw significant reductions in healthcare costs and progress in employee productivity. According to a study, there was an average drop in healthcare costs of $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, and absenteeism costs were also reduced by $2.73 for every dollar spent.
A healthy workforce is a productive one. Employers can save money on healthcare and increase productivity by offering benefits that encourage employees to take better care of themselves, both physically and emotionally, thus improving overall wellbeing.