“Better than 90% of the energy output of the brain is used in relating to the physical body in its gravitational field. The more mechanically distorted a person is, the less energy available for thinking, metabolism and healing.”

Dr. Roger Sperry, 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology & Medicine

In the context of the ongoing health care debate, it’s understandable that there is also a debate over the role of employee wellness programs. With insurance premiums skyrocketing, many employers want to see employees get better faster in an effort to reduce employee absenteeism. This has been the Holy Grail of employee productivity since the start of the traditional 9 to 5.

However, noble as this goal may be, it overlooks the bigger problem of employee presenteeism:

"Estimates vary, but some suggest that presenteeism accounts for 75 percent of productivity loss, while absenteeism represents the balance. They comprise what are called “indirect medical costs.” The two reflect an iceberg effect because absenteeism is visible, but far less prevalent than presenteeism. The combined cost to the U.S. economy is $344 billion annually."

When employees show up to work feeling unwell, the effect can be worse than when employees don’t show up at all. Companies need to be able to pinpoint the cause of a loss in productivity if they want to grow.

Fortunately, research on the ROI of wellness programs is a growing field of interest. Consider the following study profiled in the Harvard Business Review:

"Of those classified as high risk when the study started (according to body fat, blood pressure, anxiety level and other measures), 57 percent were converted to low-risk status by the end of the six-month program. Furthermore, medical claim costs declined by $1,421 per participant, compared with those from the previous year. A control group showed no such improvements. 

The bottom line: Every dollar invested in the intervention yielded $6 in health care savings."

Of course, maintaining a competitive edge is more than just staying out of the red, financially: It also means supporting employees to thrive physically and emotionally. Employees who feel better when they show up to work contribute more to the vision and mission of a company and create a more positive working environment for all, and employee wellness programs create a strong foundation to this end.

Contact us today for more information about wellness programs that can benefit your company and employees, and reap dividends in terms of benefits for the future.