If employers got their collective hands on Aladdin’s lamp, they’d wish for:
  • Increased employee accountability
  • Reduced health risks
  • Tailored health management programs that account for risk
  • Health data and measurement tools that feed into analytics and outcomes measures, and
  • Integrated and well-managed benefits and programs.
These wishes are brought to you by Hewitt Associates’ 2008 survey, The Road Ahead: Driving Productivity by Investing in Health.

38% of employers plan to develop strategies for employee health and productivity in the next 1 to 2 years; 21% plan to do so within 3 to 5 years. 1 in 5 (19%) aren’t planning for a health and productivity strategy at all.

Some of the key lessons in this survey are that:
All costs are not direct, and employers aren’t yet measuring the important indirect costs and benefits yielded by health management programs (such as absenteeism and presenteeism).
Real innovations aren’t yet adopted by most employers, such as value-based benefit designs.
On-site programs that offer convenience and “high touch” are highly valued but, again, aren’t universally adopted. Instead, ‘long distance’ programs like telephone-based counseling are, and they’re not nearly as satisfactory to employees.
This study was conducted in the Spring of 2008 among 250 employers representing 4.4 million employees.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: In this imploding week in financial markets, one looks for safe bets. Here’s one: for employers who continue to offer health benefits, a tight focus on productivity is a growth business. If you are Missourian in spirit and can prove the value of services — whether it’s the value of medicines, the ROI on wellness, the outcomes generated by a worksite clinic — there is a five-year window for nearly 6 in 10 employers to develop an integrated strategy for health and productivity, as the Hewitt survey forecasts. It’s all about health risk mitigation and management, tailoring programs to the employee’s needs and proclivities, and measuring results from the start.