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Employee wellness causes concern for employers

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The top health conditions that concern employers are obesity, stress and lack of exercise, according to a national survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota.

The survey also finds that 49 percent of respondents say containing health insurance costs is the primary health-related problem for employers. Decreased productivity is also a major concern, cited by 35 percent of respondents, followed by absenteeism, 30 percent of respondents say. Another 27 percent of respondents say lowering the number of workers’ compensation or disability claims is a key health-related issue for employers.  

“The advantages of having a healthy, fit work force are likely the reason why more than half of organizations currently have wellness programs,” says Alex Alonso, vice president of research at SHRM.

Of the respondents, 55 percent say they practice wellness initiatives, and 52 percent say wellness initiatives are effective at improving productivity as well as cutting health care costs. Forty-seven percent of respondents report that wellness initiatives reduce absenteeism.

When it comes to budgets, 76 percent of respondents say less than 10 percent of the budget goes toward worksite initiatives and less than 25 percent of the budget is used for health insurance coverage. Fewer than half of respondents at 42 percent measure the return on investment for wellness initiatives.

“Employers are realizing that wellness initiatives represent a solid business strategy with myriad benefits,” says Tom Mason, president of the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota.