‘Healthy’ employees costing you more than sick ones?

Any ailment that keeps employees at home may not be nearly as damaging to your company’s bottom line as are some of the employees who are still at their desks.

Most companies are seriously underestimating the cost of employees who are in poor health, but not sick enough to be out of work. That’s from docs in recent research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

They found that many “minor” conditions, from arthritis to anxiety, are taking a major toll on productivity … with a major price tag. Here are three sit-up-and-take-notice findings and what your company can do to get this under control.

1. You lose more in productivity than to doctors and drugs. Odds are, when your company tracks its healthcare costs, you’re considering health insurance premiums, doctor and hospital costs, prescription drug costs, etc.

But when it comes to employees in poor health, your lost productivity costs significantly outpace what you spend on medical and pharmacy costs: On average, for every $1 you spend on doctor and drug expenses, it costs your organization $2.30 in lost productivity.

2. There are different culprits when productivity’s concerned. Sure, your company expects to have to pay a high price when employees have one of these serious medical conditions: cancer, heart disease, chronic pain.

And they do. When you look solely at medical and drug costs, these ailments cost employers the most. But when you factor in health-related productivity costs, you’re looking at a very different picture. Then the five most expensive chronic health conditions become:

  • depression
  • obesity
  • arthritis
  • back and neck pain, and
  • anxiety

No company can afford to dismiss or ignore any of these conditions.

3. Employees with multiple health risks cost you the most. What’s worse than having an employee who suffers from one of those or another chronic health problem? Having an employee who suffers from several of them at the same time.

Known as “co-morbidities” in the healthcare world, they exponentially increase the pain in your company’s pocketbook in lost productivity.

For example, people with relatively minimal health risks cost their employers $1,472 a year in lost productivity. But employees with three health risks will cost you $5,952 annually.

It’s worth looking at which of the top risks your employees have so you can formulate a strategy to attack them and start saving.

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