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The role of businesses in providing healthy living benefits to employees is often discussed and debated. Certainly, implementing a corporate wellness initiative takes a multitude of resources, specifically time and money. Yet when considering the most recent studies about health in the U.S., it is clear why such an investment is necessary. The findings of a 2011 study from the Society of Actuaries highlight the economic losses that businesses face due to employee obesity:
Total cost of excess medical care caused by being overweight/obese: $127 billion
Economic loss of productivity caused by excess mortality: $49 billion
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a report stating that one in four Americans is entirely inactive and the U.N. International Labour Organization reports that Americans now work more hours than the inhabitants of any other industrialized country, limiting the amount of leisure time for exercise.
These statistics should serve as a reminder—and a call to action—for business owners to promote a healthy lifestyle among their workers. Wellness initiatives need not be grandiose or expensive. These programs can focus on preventive measures and can be based upon small goals, which frequently lead to the most transformative changes where health is concerned.
Whether you decide to start by emphasizing increased daily steps, arranging for fitness center memberships at discounted rates, or working to provide personalized health coaching for your employees, wellness starts with you. While the initial investment may require significant effort on your part, the dividends of encouraging your workforce to get healthy and stay healthy will show up across various business expenses—most notably your insurance premiums.
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