Combining work and wellness for healthier, more productive employees

Workplace safety is important for preventing injuries and keeping claims costs low, but there’s much more to the equation. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine estimates that employee obesity costs U.S. employers $73.1 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity. This expense can be minimized by building a foundation of wellness and promoting a healthy lifestyle in your workplace.

In fact, for every $1 you spend on wellness, you can get up to $3 in savings on health-related costs. Take a look below at why wellness is one of the best investments you can make.

Wellness pays

Reduce workers’ compensation costs.  Your employees likely spend at least 40 hours a week at work, which means that creating a healthy environment for them is key. A 2007 study of Duke University employees showed obesity had a significant effect on the cost and duration of workers’ compensation claims. The Duke report found that obese workers filed twice the number of workers’ compensation claims, had seven times higher medical costs from those claims, and lost 13 times more days of work from  injury or illness than did non-obese workers.

To help fight this issue, educate your employees on body mass index (BMI) rates. Invite a nutritionist or fitness trainer to lead the training to discuss healthy BMI rates and steps your employees can take to get into the normal range.

Lower employer health care costs. Unhealthy employees can increase health care costs for a company. A study from the University of Michigan suggests that unhealthy lifestyle conditions like smoking, stress, or obesity account for one out of every four dollars employers spend on health care. The above mentioned Duke University study found the average medical claims costs per 100 employees were $51,019 for the obese compared to just $7,503 for the non-obese.

Increase worker productivity. The Harvard Business Review cites a 2009 study by Dr. Ronald Loeppke, which found that lost productivity costs are 2.3 times higher than medical and pharmacy costs. Health conditions like depression, anxiety, migraines, respiratory illness, arthritis and diabetes, among others, can contribute to lost productivity. Integrating exercise opportunities into the workday can make a difference. Encourage employees to take short breaks to stretch or walk, or offer an onsite fitness class like yoga for employees to attend.

Prevent employee absenteeism. Providing incentives for employee well-being encourages the improvement of an employee’s overall health and often results in less required sick time. A wellness program can help employees improve their health, which may reduce the number of missed work days. For example, low back pain is the leading contributor to missed work days according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Walking and stretching can help alleviate back pain for chronic sufferers and may reduce the number of days away from the office.

Wellness programs provide employees with tools to reduce health risks and the knowledge to make healthier choices. A wellness program can also lower stress in the workplace, improve health and morale, increase company loyalty and help you to recruit potential employees. If you’re ready to gain the benefits of combining work and wellness, visit worksafetexas.com/wellness for tips on getting started, and watch for 10 tips for a healthier workplace on the blog next week.

 

Apply for a Texas Mutual safety or wellness grant

Safety and wellness programs are proving their value in the workplace, and as a business owner, your employees are looking to you. At Texas Mutual, we want to make it easier for you to invest in safety and wellness, and our new safety and wellness grants do just that. This opportunity is exclusively for our Texas Mutual policyholders, and we encourage you to apply by July 21 for the best chance at receiving a grant. These programs are designed to help make your business a healthier, safer place to work. See the details below on how you can get funding to buy safety equipment or start a wellness program in your workplace.

Start a wellness program with a wellness grantdumbbell and apple with measuring tape

Healthier employees save you money on workers’ comp claims, health care costs, missed work days and so much more. Wellness grant recipients will get a one-year workplace wellness program, which includes health screenings for employees, ongoing support, wellness challenge ideas, helpful webinars and more. A program like this could transform the health of your employees. Click here for more information on the wellness grants.

Get new safety equipment with a safety grantProtective clothes

Safety grant recipients will receive reimbursement of up to $1,500 for the purchase of ergonomic, safety or industrial hygiene equipment to reduce and prevent workplace injuries. If you are awarded a safety grant, you’ll have 60 days to purchase the equipment and submit a form for reimbursement. Click here for more information on the safety grants.

How to apply

You could be one of the hundreds of policyholders awarded through our Safety and Wellness Grant Program. If you are ready to apply, log in to texasmutual.com and click the Safety menu option. Then, click the orange Safety and Wellness Grants button. See the steps below for more information.

Applying for Safety and Wellness Grants

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Safety Services Support Center at 844-WORKSAFE (967-5723). We look forward to seeing the health and safety improvements this program will bring to Texas businesses.

Top three tips to make safety a habit

Workplace safety is a year-round endeavor but periodic reminders of just how important it is can be a great motivator to refresh or refocus your safety efforts. This week is one of those occasions as it marks North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) week, May 7-13. This year’s NAOSH theme is “Make Safety a Habit,” which is the most effective ways to prevent workplace accidents. To start making safety a habit in your business, and among employees, take a look at our top three tips.

Safety First Sticky NoteTip 1: See something, say something.

To help build a safety culture in your workplace, empower your employees to speak up. Instill the motto “See something, say something” and review the methods in place to report concerns. Building an environment of open communication supports a safe workplace so that employees feel comfortable speaking up about unsafe practices and potential safety hazards.

It should become a habit to immediately report unsafe practices or conditions, and that starts with you. All too often, safety practices can still get overlooked even when open communication is welcomed. As an employer, it takes united leadership to begin the conversation. To embrace the “See something, say something culture,” make sure your employees know when and how to report concerns, then address the issue and show appreciation that it was brought to your attention. Encourage employees to speak directly with their supervisor, but also provide resources to report to HR or to do so anonymously.

Tip 2: Be consistent.

To keep safety top of mind, hold regular meetings. It’s important to provide consistent training to give newer employees the resources they need to be safe on the job and also avoid complacency with seasoned employees with a refresher.

Also remember that habits won’t become fully formed in a quarterly meeting.  While it’s easy to cross a mandatory safety meeting off the list and wait until the next one is due, provide resources outside of the regular meetings and enforce the safety practices you are teaching. Keep your content fresh with safety resources from Texas Mutual. We offer more than 2,000 free materials and tools for policyholders, including our new e-Learning online training program, streaming videos, interactive tools, and downloadable safety programs at texasmutual.com. Even those who aren’t policyholders can take advantage of free Texas Mutual resources at worksafetexas.com.

Tip 3: Encourage wellness.

Safety and wellness go hand-in-hand. Think of the last time you weren’t feeling well at work or didn’t get enough sleep the night before. More than likely you were not on your A-game. Taking care of our bodies by drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, and staying active paves the way for happier employees and sets up employees to stay alert about safety on the job. In the unfortunate event an employee is injured, a healthy lifestyle also promotes a quicker recovery. Learn about the financial benefits of workplace wellness here: worksafetexas.com/wellness.

From empowering your employees to speak up with a “See something, say something” initiative, to being consistent in your training, and encouraging your employees to live a healthy lifestyle, making safety a habit starts with you. For more safety and wellness resources, log into texasmutual.com or visit worksafetexas.com.

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