Healthcare costs have increasingly become a major concern for corporations, especially since the costs associated with the dramatic rise in the incidence of obesity has dramatically affected their bottom line.
More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7 percent) are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and medical costs associated with obese employees versus those maintaining normal weight are 36 percent to 100 percent higher. Numerous studies have shown overweight and obese employees also have lower productivity and higher absenteeism from work.
Corporations have begun looking to wellness programs to provide an answer to these problems. When they can’t find local fitness professionals who are knowledgeable or confident enough to take on the challenge, they often turn to large national companies for solutions.
Too often, that move doesn’t produce results and the perceived value of wellness programs can suffer.
Here are four problems corporations are experiencing and solutions you can provide as a fitness professional:
1. Rising Healthcare Costs
Overweight and obese employees are at a higher risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, hypertension, stroke and a host of other problems. Lowering the risks of those diseases can save companies a lot of money. Who better to help employees get healthier than personal trainers who can offer small-group training during lunch, advice on healthy food options at any time during the day, and insight on how to make work stations more conducive to healthier lifestyles.
2. Decreasing Strength of Employees
Research has shown that over a 10-year period, inactive adults lose 3 percent to 8 percent of their muscle mass, experience a reduction in metabolic rate and gain more fat. A Current Sports Medicine Report found the benefits of 10 weeks of resistance exercise include lean weight gain, a 7 percent increase in metabolic rate and reduction in fat of nearly 4 pounds (1.8 kg). It also helps prevent and manage diabetes, improve cardiovascular and bone health, and lower cholesterol levels. To reap those benefits, adults should engage in 150 minutes of physical activity per week—or 30 minutes per work day. Think about what 30-minute group sessions or supervised wellness walks during lunch could achieve.
3. Increasing Stress of Employees
Workplace stress has been linked to serious health problems, including heart attack. The body releases greater amounts of the hormone cortisol in response to stress, which can stimulate an increased appetite for high-fat, high-sugar foods, and increase fat storage in the abdomen. Regular exercise and good nutrition—along with time for fun—can help reduce stress and help individuals manage it better. Suggest standing workstations to get employees moving more, stability balls in place of desk chairs or hosting walks at lunchtime. You can even introduce breathing and stretching exercises for employees to do at their desk.
4. Turnover, Absenteeism
One study found that in a North American division of Shell Oil Company, 3.73 additional days of work were lost per year for each obese employee when compared to their normal-weight coworkers. The national cost of annual absenteeism from obesity is between $3.38 billion and $6.38 billion—or $79 to $132 per obese person. Armed with those statistics, your potential value to a company can clearly be demonstrated. Show corporations that you can have a direct impact on the productivity of their employees and, as a result, a positive effect on their bottom line.
Worksite health promotion programs show an average $3.50 in savings for every $1 invested. Learning how to apply your knowledge and expertise to the needs of corporations can help you convince companies that cost savings put toward your salary is money well spent.
Learn more at our webinar, Finding Success in the Corporate World: How to Become a Wellness Consultant Who Produces Positive Results at 11 a.m. on September 19. Register today!