Employee Wellness Programs Demonstrate Positive ROI for Businesses

July 23, 2009
Many executives and business owners are realizing that employee wellness programs that help workers lose weight or quit smoking also create robust return-on-investments, according to two experts schedules to speak at the upcoming Illinois Human Resources Conference and Exposition.

Don R. Powell, PhD., president and CEO, American Institute of Preventive Medicine, pointed out that successful employee wellness programs receive an average return on investment (ROI) of $3.48 to 1 due to reduced health care costs and $5.82 to 1 due to reduced absenteeism, making them worth considering. He also advised companies to consider how comprehensive a wellness program should be for their company.

"HR managers should consider issues such as maximizing employee participation, involving dependents, teaching wise consumerism as well as online employee wellness programs that manage chronic diseases," Powell said.

Predicting Future Health

"The data show that wellness programs can have an impact on health care costs," said Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Senior Vice President Dieter Freer. "Our experience at Blue Cross is that wellness programs targeting lifestyle factors that contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a host of other conditions can have an impact, especially on prescription drug costs."

Michael Kelly, director of health and wellness services at HealthCheck360, recommends companies incorporate health risk assessments into their employee health and wellness programs.

"Health risk assessment can help predict future health care costs beyond mere health claims," Kelly said. Employee productivity can decrease due to emergent medical needs from chronic illnesses or missed work from longer hospital stays, both of which aren't reflected in direct medical claims, he said.

The 10th Annual Illinois Human Resources Conference and Exposition, held July 23-24 in DeKalb, Ill., is organized by the Illinois State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management (ISC-SHRM). ISC-SHRM runs a workplace wellness Web site that provides resources to HR executives and business owners.

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