Corporate Wellness is Simply the Right Thing to Do
"It's a myth that companies are trying to get the most out of somebody and then burn them out and throw them away. That exists in very foolish companies, but not in those that are truly successful." -Peter Allison, Senior Vice President of Technology Innovation at the Arizona Health Sciences Center.
Truly successful companies are adopting integrative health benefits including corporate wellness programs. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “chronic diseases and related lifestyle risk factors are the leading drivers of health care costs for employers: About 86% of full-time workers are overweight or have at least one chronic illness. The net result is a loss of $153 billion dollars in productivity.” Further as of 2014, according to the same study, at least “73% of small businesses and 98% of large corporations offered at least one wellness program.” It’s clear that healthcare has truly entered the 21st century and operating with a new model.
This new model encompasses more than just prevention, and more than just fighting, or curing chronic illnesses. Some health experts have called it slow medicine-that consistent and persistent lifestyle changes lead to improved health and well being, both in the workplace and at home. The effects of exercise, good nutrition, along with alternative practices such as acupuncture, meditation, and even gardening are synergistic, and produce quantifiable good results.
Kenneth R. Pelletier Ph.D., M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Arizona School of Medicine discussed a study where two groups of people with irritable bowel syndrome were treated. The first group was treated with traditional medications, and the second group with both traditional medications, as well as acupuncture. Initially, both groups reported the same amount of relief. However, at year’s end, the second group, which had incorporated both traditional as well as alternative medicine reported a complete recovery, while the first group, reported that not only were they not feeling better, their symptoms had gotten worse. This is a classic example of slow medicine, and how it works.
Today, truly successful companies understand that wellness is a holistic endeavour incorporating traditional as well as slow medicine, an engaged workforce, and education. The result is not only lowered health care costs, but a more productive workforce.