GBC’s Fry: Healthiest Maryland initiative is a ‘win-win’ for employers

Don Fry Commentary on WYPR

If you’re a business owner or manager, how would you like to start an initiative in your workplace that would save your company almost six times the cost to implement it and increase employee productivity?

What’s this strategy and how complicated is it, you ask? The answer is: it’s simple, and you won’t need an MBA from Harvard to set it up. Just participate in the state’s recently-launched Healthiest Maryland workplace wellness program.

Business managers can get started by completing an online workplace health management assessment. Then, make workplace options that promote healthy eating, physical activity, and access to preventive services available to employees, and track progress.

Workplaces with health promotion programs average a 27 percent reduction in sick leave absenteeism, a 26 percent reduction in health care costs, and a 32 percent reduction in workers compensation and disability management claims, studies show.

Of course, this isn’t just about saving business expenses. It’s about improving the health and lives of your employees – your business’ most valuable assets.

Despite Maryland’s high median household income, highly educated workforce, and world-renowned health care, the overall health of our state’s citizens is mediocre, studies show.

The United Health Foundation’s most recent annual Healthiest States report ranks Maryland only 21st. Despite ranking second in the number of primary care doctors, our state’s cardiovascular and cancer death rates rank 31st and 32nd respectively. A major issue for Marylanders is obesity, which has increased by 47 percent in our state since 1999, studies show.

We can all benefit from taking better care of ourselves. Businesses can help by making resources available where we spend most of our days – at work. A link to Healthiest Maryland information is available on the Greater Baltimore Committee Web site.

More than twenty Maryland companies are already participating. This is clearly a “win-win” business initiative worth looking into.

For the Regional Business Report, this is Don Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, for 88.1 WYPR, your NPR news station.

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