Companies Urged to Report Employee Health Status
Companies should report their workforce health metrics in their annual reports, a commission of public health experts, business leaders and health insurers has recommended.
The commission calls for all companies to include aggregate employee health data in their annual reports by 2025—just like they now report financial earnings and sustainability efforts.
It also urges Fortune 500 companies to include workforce health as part of their organizational strategies by 2020.
The recommendations are included in a June 2014 report funded by the Vitality Institute, a global think tank affiliated with U.S. wellness provider Vitality Group.
Rising health care costs are reducing the ability of U.S. companies to compete in the global marketplace, the report states. Yet private employers spend less than 2 percent of their total health budgets on prevention.
“What we’re hoping this report will do is help elevate this issue and help HR professionals build the case that there’s a huge return on investment, in terms of loyalty and reduced health care costs, for keeping people healthy at work,” says William Rosenzweig, who chairs the commission.
By emphasizing the prevention of chronic diseases such as lung cancer, diabetes and heart disease, the U.S. could save up to $303 billion in annual health care costs, the report states. A majority of chronic diseases are often preventable.
“We think that workforce health is really just another dimension of the broader sustainability and corporate responsibility agenda,” says Rosenzweig, managing partner of San Francisco-based Physic Ventures Ltd. “We’ve seen that migrate from tactical to strategic.”
IBM is working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Vitality Institute to provide employers with evidence-based training materials beginning this fall.