Risk management and human resources are traditionally two different job functions, and the people in these areas have rarely crossed paths — but that is changing.
Why are these people starting to work together more frequently?
Employee wellness has become a major factor in risk management. Employers with unhealthy employees face added risk — in terms of employee productivity, health insurance costs and workers’ compensation expenses. A good wellness program can reduce risk in all of these areas, and that has caught the attention of the finance and accounting departments.
The original purpose of a wellness program was to boost employee morale and loyalty. It then became clear that an effective wellness program also helped reduce health insurance costs, and return on investment (ROI) started appearing frequently in wellness discussions.
The programs started to move far beyond exercising and healthy eating. Many employers began offering health risk assessments to employees and targeting their specific health problems. Preventing heart disease in just one employee, for example, could save an organization tens of thousands of dollars — in addition to the original rewards of goodwill, improved morale and loyalty.
Avoiding high medical claims costs is enough to attract the risk managers. When it became obvious that wellness programs could have an impact on workers’ compensation costs, these two departments started creating integrated strategies.
Claim adjusters will tell you that poor health such as obesity inherently slows the normal progression of a workers’ compensation claim.
A Duke University Medical Center analysis found that obese workers:
Other conditions or comorbidities, which is the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions, make it even more difficult to recover from work injuries. A recent National Council on Compensation Insurance study shows:
For example, an injured worker needs surgery, but the surgery cannot happen until the worker’s hypertension is treated. The claim remains open for months, costing the employer money.
A study by U.S. Corporate Wellness says the “average results” of an employee wellness plan include a:
There is little debate that unhealthy employees injured on the job can cause more expensive workers’ compensation claims. Given the strong link between poor health and work comp costs, helping employees maintain a healthy lifestyle should be a high priority for employers.
For more information, contact us.
Rebecca advises employers on leave policies, accommodations, discrimination and early intervention with workers’ compensation claims. While in private practice, she focused on defending workers’ compensation claims and handling Medicare-related issues arising from those claims. Rebecca received her
Rebecca advises employers on leave policies, accommodations, discrimination and early intervention with workers’ compensation claims. While in private practice, she focused on defending workers’ compensation claims and handling Medicare-related issues arising from those claims. Rebecca received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in human resource management from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and received her law degree from Marquette University Law School.
Foth Companies, headquartered in Green Bay, Wis., understands the link between the company’s success and the well-being of its employees. Implementing a wellness program called “Workin’ Well” featuring health risk assessments (HRAs) is one way the company is demonstrating its commitment to employees.
In its 2014 Workplace Safety Index, Liberty Mutual estimated that employers pay just under $1 billion per week to injured employees and their medical care providers. Since even one serious workplace injury may impact the bottom line of a small or mid-size business, it is essential that employers have an effective injury and illness prevention program in place.
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