World Economic Forum touts wellness programs

By Brian Dolan
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The Aging Workforce: How to Fight the Risks, is the title of a recent article over at CFO Magazine. It highlights some of the findings of a World Economic Forum report that urges the enterprise to take a proactive approach to its employees' health. CFO Magazine is clearly focused on the bottom line, so it's an interesting lens to look through when debating the proper role for enterprise in the emerging wireless healthcare industry. Should these tools be a part of corporate wellness programs? We think so. Should more corporations offer wellness programs to their employees? The World Economic Forum believes they must. From the CFO Magazine article:

"Employers, for example, should put less focus on approaching health care tactically with programs that address health issues as they arise, and begin thinking strategically by promoting healthy behaviors. For example, they should provide practical incentives for employees to engage in physical activity, subsidize healthy eating options in workplace dining facilities and vending machines, and ensure that working practices and environments are conducive to long-term health.

Many employers, of course, have taken steps in those directions, although the report clearly implies that more should be done."

Without providing too much detail on how she came up with the number, during a webinar recently Merce partner Christine Owen declared that on average corporate wellness initiatives produce an eventual return of at least $3 to $4 for every $1 spent. That's $3 to $4 of increased productivity and reduced healthcare costs for each dollar spent.

The tricky words there are "eventual return." As CFO Magazine points out, convincing the enterprise that these wellness programs are worth the investment is much more of a challenge because there is typically no effect on next year's bottom-line.

For more on CFO Magazine's article about the WEF study, read on here