Focus on employee wellness to increase work readiness

Employee well-being plays a critical role in a person’s readiness to work. Employees who struggle physically, financially or emotionally are less likely to be engaged, take more sick days, spend more work time focused on personal issues, have higher medical costs and have higher turnover rates. Recognizing and prioritizing your employees’ interconnected wellness needs can increase employee satisfaction and engagement, and help your workforce thrive.

In this article, we’ll examine the impact of employees’ physical, mental and financial health on the workplace.

Physical health

Good physical health is known to lower the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, and helps reduce anxiety and depression. Preventive care is a staple of good physical health, yet based on USI’s client data, only 20% to 30% of the population engages with a primary care physician annually — often missing critical health screenings when the costs to intervene are low. For some employers, 50% of catastrophic claims are tied to individuals who have not had a preventive care visit in the prior 12 months.

Promoting good physical health — including diet and exercise, regular engagement with a primary care physician, and age- and gender-appropriate screenings — can help improve your employees’ health outcomes and reduce the overall cost of care.

Behavioral health

One in five American adults is estimated to have a behavioral health condition, including depression. According to USI’s client data, approximately one-third of those individuals are not receiving behavioral health support from a clinician. Poor mental health is a known contributor to increased time away from work and lower productivity. The World Health Organization estimates $1 trillion in lost productivity in the U.S. alone related to depression. Poor mental health can also affect physical health and is known to drive up the cost of care for certain chronic conditions by 35% to 100%.

Increasing awareness of behavioral health and available resources, as well as screening for conditions like depression during preventive care visits, can help undiagnosed plan members access the care they need. The United States Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine, has recommended including depression screenings as part of the preventive care visit.

Financial health

Financial well-being is often overlooked but profoundly affects an employee's overall happiness and performance. Fifty-seven percent of working Americans say finances are the top cause of stress in their lives, which can negatively impact sleep, self-esteem, relationships at home and mental and physical health.

Financial stress can also adversely affect the workplace. Roughly half of employees who report financial stress admit to spending three hours or more per week at work dealing with, or distracted by, personal finances. They are also twice as likely to look for a new job. Providing employees with financial planning resources can help them better manage personal finances, work toward financial goals and feel less stressed about money and retirement.

By ensuring employees have access to preventive care, including screening for depression, as well as behavioral health and financial planning resources, employers can significantly improve employee satisfaction, resulting in:

  • Increased engagement and productivity
  • Reduced turnover
  • Lower overall costs of care

Investing in your employees’ well-being can help create a positive work environment that encourages growth, innovation and a shared sense of purpose.

Headshot of Colin Cassady

Colin Cassady

Employee Benefits Practice Leader, USI

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