Corporate Fitness and Wellness:
A Necessity for Financial Health
by David Spindel, M.S., C.P.F.T.
In a world where health care costs are taking an increasing bite into corporate profits, implementation of programs that yield a reduction in these costs, or at least contain them, are no longer elective, but rather a necessary consideration for a financially prudent organization. A well designed wellness/fitness program with a strong nutritional and fitness lifestyle emphasis will directly meet this need.
Management's goal in a productive wellness program must be viewed through the perspective of increased employee productivity, improved employee morale with respect to their relationship to the organization, decreased utilization of employer subsidized health benefits, and decreased employee absenteeism due to health related causes. Obviously, an improvement in any of these will have a positive impact in the financial status of the organization. The benefit from the employee's standpoint is improved health and energy levels, decreased bodyfat, and a more youthful, fit body. In the section titled Corporate Fitness Makes a Bottom Line Impact, I have discussed some notable corporate examples of some of the benefits that a well designed fitness program will bring to the organization.
The most productive way to achieve both management's, as well as the employee's, goals is through a program that will provide the individual employee with an awareness of their current physical condition, the benefits of attaining a "more fit" lifestyle, a plan that will permit them to achieve the necessary changes to their physical condition that can be readily applied in the context of their life, and a tracking system that will provide constructive feedback.
Corporate Fitness Makes a Bottom Line Impact
- Reduced Absenteeism - Dupont reduced absenteeism by 47.5% over six years for the corporate fitness program participants. Health Behavior, March 1992.
- Reduced Health Care Costs - Steelcase showed that medical claims costs were 55% lower for corporate fitness program participants than non-participants over a six year period - an average of $478.61 for participants vs. $868.88 for non-participants. The Am. Journal of Health Promotion, September/October, 1991.
- Reduced Turnover - The Canadian Life Assurance Company found turnover among fitness program participants was 32.4% lower over a seven year period compared with non-participants. Canadian Journal of Public Health, January/February, 1988.
- Positive Return on Investment - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Indiana found that its corporate fitness program had a 250% return on investment; $2.51 for every $1 invested over a five year period. American Journal of Health Promotion, March/April, 1991.
- Sick Leave Use Reduced - The Travelers Corporation reported that its health promotion yielded a 19% reduction in sick leave use over the four year study with a $3.40 return for every dollar spent, yielding a total corporate savings of $146 million in benefits costs. Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA), 1992.
- Lower Health Care Expenditures - Superior Coffee and Foods, a subsidiary of Sara Lee reports that the wellness program for its 1200 employees showed 22% fewer hospital admissions, 29% shorter hospital stays, and 42% lower expenses per admission when compared to other divisions. Long term disability costs were down by 40%. Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA), 1992.
The volume of data to support the benefits with respect to organizations that have initiated corporate fitness programs is overwhelming. When viewed from a cost benefit standpoint, an effective fitness program will always handsomely reward the organization as well as the individual participants.
The purpose of the balance of this paper is to propose that an organization-specific program, that has been proven to be effective to corporations as well as to thousands of individuals, can be developed for virtually any situation.
Through the Essential Fitness Center, specific wellness/fitness programs can be tailored towards the available resources of the organization. Whether the organization currently has on-site facilities, intends to procure and develop facilities, or does not have the ability to house an on-site facility, programs can be developed. In the event that on-site facilities are not available, the Essential Fitness program can be implemented under my direction at a "properly" equipped local health club through a negotiated facility utilization contract. For organizations currently maintaining minimal fitness facilities consultation services can be provided regarding procurement and acquisition of appropriate on-site equipment.
For further information regarding how a program may be developed for your organization, please feel free to contact me. I will be happy to provide you with references of both private and public sector corporate clients that have utilized our services. I am sure that you will find that our renowned professional reputation is exactly what your organization was looking for. I look forward to working with you. The return on your investment will be profound and immediate.
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