The Last Word: The value of worksite wellness

Andrew Seter, M.D.
Chief executive officer & president Sensia Healthcare, Milwaukee

Industry:  Occupational and preventive medicine

Employees: 50

In this recession, when cash flow is tight, why would a company invest in a workplace wellness program? Consider Dr. Andrew Seter to be a contrarian. He says companies can’t afford not to invest in some form of employee wellness.

“In these difficult economic times, employers are looking for every way to cut expenses.  One of the most significant costs that continue to rise is that of health insurance. Employers need to be as aggressive in controlling their own health care costs as any other expense. Fortunately, worksite wellness programs have proven to be effective in so doing.

“The return on investment for employers that have implemented effective wellness programs is nationally reported as a $3 savings for every $1 spent. In order to achieve cost savings, the program needs to be well-conceived, organized and implemented. The corporate commitment needs to come from the top and be sustained for the long term.  The occasional ‘lunch and learn’ will not achieve the desired results.

“Changing lifestyle habits can be very difficult to accomplish while juggling work and family responsibilities. Bringing wellness activities to the worksite breaks down the barriers to information and activities that employees can use to improve their health. Reducing personal health risks reduces the need for health care, thereby reducing health-related costs. The equation is that simple.

“In order to improve personal health, everyone needs to exercise, eat a balanced diet and not smoke. On-site wellness activities that provide direct and confidential access to health care professionals allow for personal planning to achieve lifestyle changes. Participation in on-site coordinated wellness activities allows the employee to directly reduce their risk factors for disease. Everyone benefits in the process.”

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