Al Lewis and Tom Emerick posted a great article on the HBR blog about the Danger of Wellness Programs. It reminds me a lot of what my old boss published after she left Healthways, but as the old expression goes – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
I’ve talked about this before in my post on why CVS asking for their employees weight was a good thing, but let me elaborate more. While the HBR article makes some great points about ROI, the reality is that companies don’t just jump into wellness for the ROI. It’s about creating a better workforce. What Al Lewis and his partner ignore are other realities like:
- 80% of jobs (like mine) require no physical activity (i.e., sitting disease)
- 80% of medical costs are tied to behavior (AON – link in this post)
- Our healthcare costs in retirement are going to be unsustainable (i.e., the health-wealth connection)
- 40% of our country is overweight and most don’t even know it (i.e., why obesity is now a disease)
- 40% of people don’t get flu shots and they should
- Absenteeism and presenteeism cost companies millions of dollars a year (which in my mind makes the arguement for an integrated wellness and EAP (employee assistance program) solution)
- Healthier employees are happier employees which leads to greater client satisfaction which ultimately leads to better valuation
In general, only 12% of people are fully health literate. Most people are unengaged with their healthcare and overwhelmed with work and life. That’s why programs like biometrics and health risk assessments are important. They try to create teaching moments for us to pay attention to our health and realize our risks.