There’s a growing body of research on the important role that businesses must play in impacting the health of their workforce and surrounding communities. To highlight recent research in this area, Francois Millard, chief actuarial officer for Vitality Group, published a helpful summary earlier this month in Corporate Wellness.
The article summarized several practical initiatives and research that employers should consider:
- The biggest increases in healthcare spending currently stem from conditions impacting the working-age population. These are preventable through targeted programs. It starts by knowing the demographics, behaviors, healthcare utilization and cost of the population you are serving. These characteristics could vary significantly by region and location, and good internal tracking and transparency could improve executive support and resource allocation to support your initiatives. In addition, consistent external reporting, such as what has been recommended by the Vitality Institute Commission will help establish best practices, shared learnings and broader awareness that human capital is both an input and an output of a company’s performance.
- Foster a culture and environment that is supportive of healthier choices. In The Paradox of Disease Prevention, Dr. Harvey Fineberg offers strategies to help overcome the obstacles that make prevention difficult to put into practice. They include some of the following: pay for preventive services; promote health in the workplace and provide incentives to employees to maintain healthy practices; make prevention simpler, lower in cost, and less dependent on individual action; use policy to reinforce choices that favor prevention and use multiple media channels to educate and strengthen healthy habits. Many of these strategies rest on sound behavioral economic principles that can help employers make healthy choice an easier choice in and outside of the workplace.
- There are established linkages between workplace health and the health of the greater community. By targeting specific health issues in your cmmunity, it is possible to improve more than just the health of your business. A report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation and compiled by the Vitality Institute shows how businesses can use a mix of strategies to improve community health—engaging in strategic philanthropy, exhibiting corporate social responsibility, and extending workplace health strategies to the community.
What steps is your organization taking to improve the health of your employees, their families and the surrounding community?