With the cost of health care rising – by as much as seven per cent annually in the US – workplace wellness initiatives and preventive health care have become hot topics.
The notion of workplace wellness is hardly new. As far back as the 1920’s, Japanese workers began their day with calisthenics – the difference now is that wellness programs are everywhere and corporations are investing in it.
Generali Worldwide, a leading provider of health insurance in the Cayman Islands, has been working with groups such as Ernst & Young, RBC, General Motors and Water Authority to introduce the Be Active & Eat Smart Workplace Wellness Program into businesses.
‘Generali Worldwide has been active in the community for preventive health and wellness for years in Cayman,’ said Maureen Cubbon, marketing, communications and health programmes manager for Generali Worldwide in Grand Cayman.
‘The workplace wellness programmes, which include on site health checks and tailored programs for staff such as boot camps and lifestyle coaching, have been very successful. These programs are part of the health benefits we offer and we have found that employees and employers alike find it valuable and worth the effort.’
Ms Cubbon added: ‘The rising costs of health care are directly related to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the US, behind tobacco use. Obesity has many long term health implications, mainly diabetes. Eight per cent of the population in the US has some sort of diabetes – that equals about 2.3 million people. This is an increase of 50 per cent in the last 10 years – and it is easily preventable through nutrition and exercise.’
A series of new studies on both obesity and diabetes have shown worrying trend for the Caribbean, where obesity has been increasing over the past 20-30 years, mostly in youth.
Corporations all over North America are investing in wellness programs for their staff. Besides the overall results of better health, businesses are seeing a marked decrease in sick days which keeps employees at work, and the cost of medical bills down.
‘Everyone is continuing to search for ways to contain costs – including health care costs. Fortunately, it appears the majority of workers and employers understand that adopting preventive health care measures not only improves overall health but can drive down costs in the long term,’ said Ms Cubbon.
‘By focusing on prevention, we can have a major impact on overall health in Cayman Islands.’