Most successful businesses are beginning to understand that the reactive approach to employee health–providing group health insurance to cover employees when they get sick-is far less effective than one that combines preventive efforts with transparent/reactive medical services. Adding a traditional "wellness" program to group health benefits used to be the first step for employers who want to "proactively" reign in their increasing group healthcare costs. This approach is slow, sometimes ineffective, and difficult to measure success. More importantly, this philosophy is becoming obsolete.
By adding a new generation of non-traditional "wellness" programs to their healthy workforce strategy, employers can take their program to a whole new level. Employers will look to a new generation of "comprehensive healthy workforce programs" to address not only nutrition, cessation education, exercise, and disease management, but also disease prevention, functional employment testing, job analysis, ergonomic assessment, and injury prevention. By looking at the total health of our workforce, employers can impact all healthcare costs including:
Group health insurance premiums
Workers' compensation insurance premiums and claims
Presenteeism (workers who come to work but underperform due to illness or stress)
Recruitment and retention
Cost of rehiring and retraining workers to replace hires that cannot perform the essential functions of a job and therefore, become injured and make workers' comp claims
Many of these programs will be introduced within the context of the workers' compensation and safety, rather than the traditional benefits market. Instead of being an outsider to the process, workers' compensation philosophies will be the foundation of implementation, and the key mechanism to measure the success of the program and an employer's return on investment.