Employers in the Asia Pacific region are beginning to realise that unhealthy employee behaviours are driving their health benefits costs and are thus looking at promoting and enhancing the health and wellness of their employee populations,says a survey.
According to Mercer Marsh Benefits survey,across the Asia Pacific region,35 per cent of the 899 companies that participated in the survey spent over 6 per cent of their annual payroll on health benefits in 2011,while 10 per cent spent more than 15 per cent.
Alarmingly,59 per cent of responding employers expect their health benefits expenses to rise in 2012,and senior management is growing increasingly anxious about their employees’ health,the report said.
Mercer’s Asia Pacific Employee Health and Benefits Leader Rosaline Chow Koo said “our clients are experiencing the real benefits of implementing health and wellness programmes,as without such preventative programmes in place their employee health profiles continue to deteriorate,particularly among younger employees.”
Unhealthy behaviours lead to poor health among employees.
They drive up health care usage and costs,and drive down productivity and performance,the study noted. Moreover,employees in the region are increasingly exposed to major health risk factors including stress,sedentary jobs and lifestyle,insufficient sleep,poor diet,smoking,too much alcohol,not following medical care advice.
Accordingly,many companies in the region are looking to enhance their health programs in the next two years through an expanded use of health risk assessments,and interventions including stress management and chronic disease management,as indicated by survey respondents.
Some of the top drivers for promoting health and wellness in their organisation include improvements in productivity and performance,attraction and retention of talent and promoting employee protection and well being.
Christine Owen,Mercer’s Health Consulting Leader,Asia Pacific,said that many employers acknowledge the value of promoting and maintaining the health and wellness of their employee populations.
“There are clear commercial motives for investing in employee health like improving productivity and performance,attracting and retaining talent and promoting protection and well-being in the workplace,” Owen said.