Are health programs a waste of money?

Are health programs a waste of money?

We live in an interesting time, for the first time ever there is so much research available which links lifestyle to morbidity and mortality, where we cannot deny that implementing modifiable factors like nutrition, exercise and self-development, have a positive effect on our (mental) wellbeing. And it doesn’t take much to imagine that adapting these modifiable factors would reflect positively on medical costs and absenteeism at work.

But would implementing and investing in a ‘Health Care Promotion’ program make a difference within your organisation? Does the promotion of health indeed bring a return on investment? And are there other reasons to implement a ‘Health Care Program’?

A large study by ‘Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health’ shows us that indeed the turnover of employees is much lower in companies who offer an effective health promotion program. And considering the costs of hiring employees, this definitely has a positive effect on the budget. PricewaterhouseCoopers have calculated the return on investment for the “Beyond Blue” program and have indicated that focussing on the improvement of mental wellness in the workplace has high returns, especially for small to medium size companies

Employers often ask, “Instead of investing in a ‘health promotional program’, would the employee benefit from the offers made by the Medical Providers?”

“Is there a need to invest in a program if such services are readily available?”

Although this information is most certainly worth looking at, due to the lack of personal involvement of such services, these programs fail to connect with the employees which makes these programs less effective, and are therefore more seen as a ‘Marketing tool’ than a good program for the company.

So what is it that make organisations decide for an external health promotion program? In a survey done by the Association of Worksite Health promotion in 2000, 84% of the respondents answered not surprisingly ‘to keep employees healthy’. Interestingly, ‘to improve morale’ was the second largest reason to employ a Health promotion professional followed by ‘retain good employees’ and ‘attract quality employees’.

The answer to our questions is a clear ‘ yes’, a health promotion program is worth the money, and it will provide an organisation, regardless of size, with a solid return on investment, either due to a lowered turnover of employees, decreased absenteeism or increased productivity.

However, working in a company which sends out such a clear message to employees that management values their well-being goes beyond these hard numbers of investment. These are factors which are not always measurable, but very much invaluable.

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