Healthy workforce is a productive workforce (Bray & Bray, 2009). Healthy employees can give more attention to their job responsibilities, work more dedicatedly, and devote themselves whole heartedly to their organization (Duncan, 2008). On the other hand, unhealthy employees are not able to give their best at the workplace due to the negative impacts on their health caused by their unhealthy living habits and lifestyles (Cooper, 1994).
To encounter this issue, organizations arrange different types of Workplace Health Care and Wellness Program at the workplace (Healey & Walker, 2009). These wellness programs bring a significant change in the lives of employees by communicating them the benefits of a healthy life style and the negative impacts of the unhealthy habits (Cooper, 1994). They convince the unhealthy employees to adopt the healthy living habits that ultimately contribute towards an increased organizational productivity (Duncan, 2008).
These Workplace Health Care and Wellness Programs need heavy investments by the Organizations; therefore it has been under practice in the business world that the employer charges the costs of these investments from their employees (Bray & Bray, 2009). For the last few years, an issue relating to these Workplace Health Care and Wellness Programs has been a topic of debate in the business community of the world which have strained the managers to think whether all the healthy and unhealthy people should pay an equal premium for health insurance and be subject to an equal deduction for health care services or not (Cooper, 1994)?
This paper critically analyses the different aspect of Workplace Health Care and Wellness Programs and give explanation to the various issues relating to the costs and effectiveness of these programs for the organizations.
Workplace Health Care and Wellness Programs
What is a Workplace Health and Welfare Program?
A workplace health and welfare or wellness program promotes a safe and risk free working environment for the employees of an organization (Duncan, 2008). It aims to provide them the best working conditions that can enhance their performance capabilities and improve the organizational productivity (Bray & Bray, 2009). The program is run by highly experienced organizational members that perform the functions of risk assessment, training and workshops on the health and safety issues, and the provision of health care and wellness allowances to every worker (Cooper, 1994).
A workplace health and welfare program not only aims to protect the workers from hazardous working conditions, but also intends to bequeath a healthier social circle and a better future for their family members (Duncan, 2008). Keeping in view the benefits of these programs, both profit and non-profit organizations have started implementing them at their workplace (Bray & Bray, 2009).
What constitutes a Workplace Health and Welfare Program?
Every organization designs a suitable health and wellness program that fits the needs and requirements of its workers (Healey & Walker, 2009). However there are some essential components that a workplace welfare program must constitute. Before highlighting these components, it is worth mentioning that the success of a welfare program essentially requires a blend of the Management's consciousness towards employee welfare, presence of a long-term objective of this program, and the employees' own interest in instituting such a system in their working environment (Cooper, 1994).
A well-formulated workplace welfare program constitutes the following components;
1. Objectives of the Workplace Welfare Program
2. Health Risks Assessment
3. Assessment of the need for Financial Resources required for the Program
4. Allocation of Financial resources to different areas of the Program (Cooper, 1994)
5. Training sessions, workshops, and classes to develop understanding of the Health, Safety, and Welfare issues, etc. (Bray & Bray, 2009).
Should healthy people have to pay Medicare and other health costs for the health problems of unhealthy people?
The lifestyles, habits, personal traits, and characteristics of every employee are different from all his colleagues, subordinates, and supervisors within the workplace (Healey & Walker, 2009). Some organizations distribute their budget for workplace health and welfare programs according to the composition of their healthy and unhealthy people in the total workforce (Duncan, 2008). Converse to this, some organizations charge an equal health and life insurance premium from all their employees irrespective of whether they have unhealthy habits or not (Cooper, 1994).
The following sections explain why organizations need to charge a higher premium from those employees who are obese, smokers, or alcoholic than the others with no such unhealthy habit.
Major Costs of Welfare Programs for Healthy and Unhealthy People for an Organization:
Although every employee is paid a good amount as medical allowance which is mostly according to their designation and basic salary, but health insurance is paid according to their lifestyles and habits (Healey & Walker, 2009). For instance smokers, alcoholic, obese, and the people with unhealthy habits cost more to their employers as compared to healthy people in the form of higher insurance premiums, Medicare services, surgeries, welfare programs costs, and the like.
From this perspective, the costs of Workplace welfare programs can be explained for both types of employees individually. The major costs involved in the process of workplace welfare programs for the healthy people include;
1. Medication expenditures born by the employer for the seasonal health and infectious diseases to their healthy employees (Bray & Bray, 2009),
2. The costs incurred on training sessions, awareness programs, and knowledge building classes on different safety, health, and self-protection issues for the healthy employees (Cooper, 1994),
3. The costs of Health insurance (premiums) for all the employees of the organization as the monetary benefits other than salary, etc. (Duncan, 2008).
These aforementioned expenditures and costs are incurred for every healthy employee of the organization. But there is also a big percentage of employees who are either ailing, suffering from some under the weather disease, or have unhealthy habits and lifestyles (Duncan, 2008). Their enduring diseases and unhealthy habits, like smoking, drinking, etc. cause extra costs for the employers in the form of higher health insurance premiums, more medication expenditures, expensive surgeries, etc. (Bray & Bray, 2009; Healey & Walker, 2009).
The costs of Medicare and health services for unhealthy, obese, smokers, and alcoholic employees are much higher than those incurred on the healthy employees (Hitt, Ireland, & Hoskisson, 2007). The biggest reason for this big difference in medication, health services, and welfare program costs is the negative impacts of unhealthy habits on the lives of their addicts (Healey & Walker, 2009).
Why Organizations have to expend more on their unhealthy employees than on healthier employees?
There are two main reasons for why unhealthy employees with some kind of disparate habit cost higher than healthier employees having smart habits (Hitt, Ireland, & Hoskisson, 2007). First; smokers, alcoholic, obese, and unhealthy people are more exposed to diseases, from a common seasonal infection to a serious health problem, and second; organizational productivity slows down when such employees are not able to continue job, or take long medical leave from their office due to sickness or some serious health problem (Bray & Bray, 2009).
Should alcoholics, smokers, obese and unhealthy people have higher premiums than healthier and physically fit employees?
Recent studies show that a considerable percentage of big companies have initiated welfare and health care promotion programs at their workplace by which they educate and train their employees on these health care issues (Duncan, 2008). But not all employees take it seriously and do not quit their unhealthy habits, like alcohol, smoking, unhealthy and spicy foods, etc. As companies have to incur more expenses on unhealthy people's training, development, and knowledge building, and have to face the consequences due to their absenteeism and poor working abilities, they now charge a higher premium and more deductibles from all those employees who have unhealthy habits (Hitt, Ireland, & Hoskisson, 2007).
Keeping in view the costs that are incurred by employers on unhealthy employees and the consequences that they have to face due to their unhealthy habits, it is strictly argued that unhealthy employees should pay more premiums to their employers for Medicare and health services than healthy employees (Bray & Bray, 2009). Smokers, alcoholics, fat, and unhealthy employees take more leaves from work, show lower level of performance than healthier and physically fit employees, and increase the organization's expenses on arranging wellness and health care programs (Healey & Walker, 2009). It is quite fair to charge a higher premium from these employees so that they realize that they are just wasting their own money on such unhealthy habits and lifestyles (Hitt, Ireland, & Hoskisson, 2007). The major costs that an organization bears for its employees with unhealthy habits include;
Health insurance premiums and claims
Life insurance premiums and claims
Reduced organizational performance due to decline in individual employee performance
Absenteeism from work due to poor health conditions
(Healey & Walker, 2009)
Costs of awareness programs
Medical treatment costs if the employees are reimbursed for their medical expenditures by the company (Bray & Bray, 2009).
The costs of recruitment and training of new employees in case…