I appreciate every attempt, big and small, that our VA makes to be better stewards of our money. I challenge the VA to examine the financial impact of employee poor health on our system. A healthy bottom line depends on healthy people. We are lately painfully reminded of this issue as we have attended the memorial services of our most valued employees. There are various statistics that demonstrate overwhelming employer costs related to poor employee health (Look at Mayo Clinic Health Solutions, 2008).
• Smokers (20% of employees) cost their employers 4,430/year in lost productivity costs, due to missed days and hours of work, compared to 2,623/year for nonsmokers. (An estimated 1.7 million cost to Bay Pines)
• Employees at risk of emotional stress (an estimated 20%) have been found to be 2.3% less productive, costing employers annually an extra $1,391. (An estimated 1.3 million cost to Bay Pines)
• Employees with a risk of weight issues (60% of employees) are found to be 1.8% less productive and cost employers $1,079.00 more annually. (Approximately 3.1 million cost to Bay Pines)
Here are some ideas:
• Incentives for employee health screenings and participation in health promotion programs.
- MOVE and Tobacco Cessation
(Mayo Clinic Health Solutions’ experience
shows that a relatively small incentive, such as a $100 gift card or
$240 health premium reduction, can drive high participation in
health promotion programs (75 percent and 87 percent respectively),
such as a health risk assessment.
• Company culture and camaraderie can help drive program
-A population-wide walking campaign (Walk With Ease)
-Health Fair with health risk assessment
-Friendly competition between departments to maintain weight over the holidays
-During break times, for employees, make available yoga and other relaxation exercises, as is done in Japan, to promote health.
We are undergoing a health care transformation (e.g. PACT, HPDP, etc…) in the VA because our leadership is responding to the staggering financial and health impact of chronic disease conditions on our patients. Let’s have Bay Pines lead the way in taking this initiative to our employees and have a profound impact on our bottom-line expenditures. It will be a small initial investment of our resources, with a large pay-off.
Finally, I started this note by saying that I applaud any effort to reduce our costs. So if this idea is not one that you wish to pursue, a smaller idea is to initiate a campaign in which the VA states that we want to become more energy efficient. We can display our electricity costs per month and encourage each employee to turn off their office light when he/she is not using their light. Any change in our expenditures will be an incentive for employees to be mindful of this issue.
Thanks for this opportunity,
Roma Palcan, PhD
Health Behavior Coordinator
Bay Pines VA