Employers have a role in healthy workers


First Posted: 4/17/2014

Health insurance is big news these days. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, everybody is talking about the cost and hassle of keeping Americans healthy.

But for business owners around the country, this is not a new subject. As health care costs rise, so does the cost of providing health care to employees, peeling off an ever-increasing slice of the business bottom line.

So it should come as no surprise that smart business owners are always looking for new ways to save on health costs. And creating a healthy workplace is one, very effective way of doing just that.

The workplace is an important setting for health protection, health promotion and disease prevention programs. On average, Americans working full-time spend more than one-third of their day, five days per week at the workplace.

While employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace, they also have abundant opportunities to promote individual health and foster a healthy work environment for more than 139 million workers in the United States. The use of effective workplace programs and policies can reduce health risks and improve the quality of life for workers.

Beyond just being the right thing to do, maintaining a healthier workforce can lower direct costs such as insurance premiums and worker's compensation claims. It will also positively impact many indirect costs such as absenteeism and worker productivity.

There are a multitude of ways to improve the health environment of your business. They range from simply providing access to healthier choices in the company vending machine to full-on, employee-developed wellness committees.

Other options include offering:

• Health education classes, either at the office or off-site.

• Access to local fitness facilities.

• Company policies that promote healthy behaviors such as a tobacco-free campus policy

• Employee health insurance coverage for appropriate preventive screenings.

• A healthy work environment created through actions such as making healthy foods available and accessible through vending machines or cafeterias.

Workplace health programs can lead to change at both the individual and the organization levels.

Activate Allen County has experts ready to help you develop a plan for your workplace. They are also offering a free Healthy Workplace seminar beginning at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the YMCA Annex. The seminar is free. To register, call the Activate office at 419-221-5035, or by email at lklett@activateallencounty.com.