And what you can do to avoid these crippling costs.
Preventable chronic lifestyle conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease are costing Asian economies and subsequently the private sector billions of dollars each year in poor productivity, absenteeism, and increased insurance premiums.
These growing financial drains can be mitigated by clever companies willing to proactively support their employees in preventative health or managing symptoms with lifestyle changes when prevention isn’t possible.
It’s no surprise that tech giants Google, Apple and Amazon are turning to digital health solutions to overcome this growing burden on their own employees and the private sector more broadly. Offering an all-in-one, customizable, scalable, digital preventative health solution could be your business’ key to healthier employees and greater profits.
The cost of chronic lifestyle disease for your business
Since the onset of chronic diseases occurs in the most productive mid-life age group, it has direct and adverse effects on workforce productivity and macroeconomic development.
While it’s easy to throw around the stats of $2billion worth of losses that risk factors for chronic diseases like smoking, physical inactivity and obesity are costing businesses collectively each year, it’s important to measure the cost to your business.
Did you know that Asia is already behind the eight ball having 60% of the world’s diabetics? One study looking at productivity of workers with type 2 diabetes in China found that 1.3 years of productive work time is lost for every diabetic.
Now multiply that by up to 20% of your workforce.
Can you imagine throwing away that amount in wages to a disease that can be prevented or better managed with effective digital health solutions?
Isn’t it time for employers to invest more wisely in prevention of chronic disease to reduce the ongoing costs to business? Good employee health and wellness makes good business sense.
Why are chronic lifestyle diseases costing your business?
It’s actually pretty simple. Chronic disease and the risk factors of poor diet, inactivity and smoking are costing businesses in lost productivity while at work, due to fatigue, reduced fitness and higher susceptibility to illness.
It’s also costing in absenteeism from increased need to manage associated symptoms such as back and joint pain related to obesity; increased headaches from hypertension; and difficulty in physical movement from swollen limbs, fatigue, and breathlessness from cardiovascular disease.
Unfortunately, many Asians don’t even realise they have risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Part of the reason chronic conditions continue to cost companies in lost productivity, absenteeism, increased insurance premiums and early retirement is because the risk factors of hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, diabetes and even obesity appear silent…
Until, that is, they cause a significant event like heart attack or stroke.
The symptoms of these common lifestyle diseases and risk factors are overlooked as ‘getting older’ or ‘working too much’, when indeed they are related to very specific and preventable causes. Hence the costs to your business of chronic disease are often hidden.
If we take obesity as an example, it is well documented that a high proportion of Asians suffer from a phenomenon colloquially known as the ‘skinny fat’ body type. This significant but silent medical condition is where normal-weight people are metabolically obese. While they appear skinny, they have a high body mass index that is associated with the increased risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
With two out of five adult Asians being medically overweight or obese, it is likely that your workforce is and will continue to suffer both the health and financial consequences without even realising.
This lack of awareness is an easy cost to reduce by equipping employees with the knowledge and empowering them with easy-to-access solutions. But how?
How to support employee health and look after your bottom line
It’s easy to say, ‘just eat better and exercise more’, but the main reasons people fail to adhere to lifestyle regimens are due to lack of information, low motivation, or inadequate access to appropriate tools or facilities. There are easy-to-implement ways that you can aid in the prevention or improve the management of chronic disease in your workplace.
1. Providing accessible digital solutions like Active8me
With the availability of personalized digital health solutions, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to employee health and wellness is now redundant. Tailoring your employee health benefits to their individual needs is not only beneficial for their health in terms of preventing chronic disease, but it also improves productivity and fosters organisational commitment.
When searching for digital solutions, personalization and customization is a must. However, don’t underestimate the need for a program that incorporates mental wellbeing while tracking physical progress.
Active8me is an integrated digital solution for exercise, nutrition, mindset, tracking and personal coaching. It has been designed by experts to ensure customizable programs that are easy for companies to implement and even easier for employees to use.
It’s like you’re equipping your employees with a personal trainer, dietician and life coach that fits in their pocket to use anywhere, anytime…even their lunch break! The Active8me app also offers the ability to gauge the health improvements of your employees through data analytics, meaning you can really start to equate health gains with investment.
2. Promoting healthy living and healthy workplaces
Most people inherently know what is good for them, but old habits die hard, so making your workplace a ‘health-friendly’ environment makes it easier for your employees to make better choices.
This is just as important for employees working from home during Covid-19 times. It could be as simple as making fresh fruit available or limiting junk food vending machines at the workplace and encouraging healthy lunch options when at home.
That’s where apps like Active8me with expertly designed meals and nutrition guidance can help your employees eat well, stay energized and know you are supporting them.
In addition to the physical health benefits, creating a healthy work environment can result in improved engagement and wellbeing in your workforce.
This creates a positive cycle of health and wellbeing, with one study revealing that 61% of employees who feel their wellbeing is supported by their company (with a wellness program) make healthier choices.
Win-win when it comes to preventing chronic disease and reducing the associated costs!
3. Making movement a regular part of your workplace
Covid-19 restrictions have seen a change in how workplaces operate. Employees may be more segregated in the workplace or spending longer at their computers than usual when working from home.
Encouraging your employees to move more during the day can improve not only their productivity in the short term but also their likelihood of progressing to chronic disease which can have greater long-term effects on absenteeism and productivity.
It’s well documented that exercise and weight loss are the prescription for preventing lifestyle diseases. For example, the risk of prediabetes becoming type 2 diabetes can be reduced by 58% with exercise and weight loss. Additionally, the positive link between physical activity and mental wellbeing is only going to add benefits to your employees work and home lives.
Keep in mind that people are motivated to be active for different reasons. That means a tailored program to suit diverse needs is important. Wearable technologies and fitness apps, like Active8me, that can be customised to fitness levels and interests offer greater benefits over a one-size-fits all approach.
4. Accessibility and convenience wins every time
Most importantly, we can’t overlook that we all have busy lifestyles. So, it’s important to give employees a convenient solution to their health needs. What better place than in the palm of their hands?
Whether your employees are working from home or in the office. Whether it’s 6am or 9pm on a weekday or weekend. Or whether they are travelling (remember those days) or not, their mobile phone is with them. With apps like Active8me they can take control of their health when it best suits them.
We have become a digital society and now during these Covid-19 times we rely on the virtual world more than ever. Having health solutions employees can access from their most used device is a necessary adjunct to the offline activities that companies already provide to support health.
How to get started with improving the health of your workforce
Firstly, employers need to think of health and wellness care as an investment that is worth the upfront costs and time. The proof is unequivocal on this now, as we’ve touched on above. So let’s assume that key corporate stakeholders understand the ROI on wellness and why it makes sense.
For employees, education and empowering them with information that highlights the need for a healthy lifestyle is a great place to start. One important fact to highlight based on our experience is that unless an initiative is relevant, supported and demonstrated by all levels of the company it will likely fail. Employees want to see their companies taking their health and wellness seriously. Hint – that means much more than an email! 🙂
Making your company’s health message relevant is about putting your wellness program into context. Chronic lifestyle diseases can hurt families in multiple ways, from loss of income to death.
Making your employees aware of the result of the risk factors and then equipping them with knowledge and tools to head in the right direction will mean you have a much greater engagement of your wellness program. This ultimately results in saving you money in reduced absenteeism and improved productivity.
Get in touch today to see how Active8me can help your employees become healthier, more engaged with their own wellness and improve your bottom line!