Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare costs’

Ignoring Employee Health Can Have a Huge Impact on the Bottom Line

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Employers are faced with many tough bottom-line decisions every day.  Because of healthcare reform, the health of employees and cost of that health has moved to the forefront. We all know that the growing trend over the past 20 years has showed Americans becoming less active, overly stressed and obese. How does that translate into dollars? Obese employees cost their employers $1,850-$5,500 more per year in healthcare costs than their healthy-weight peers. A new Gallup poll o nearly 110,000 full-time employees estimates that unhealthy workers cost businesses $153 billion a year in lost productivity. Only about one in seven employees — 13.9 percent of the workforce — is of normal weight with no chronic condition.

In response, many employers try to implement wellness programs that promise big return on invested dollars, but often fail. Why? In one word; Culture! The only true way to create behavior change, which leads to lifestyle change, is through creating a culture within the office walls. Behavior change takes time which is why having a supportive culture plays such a large role in the process. Accountability and adherence is vital in this process. For example, some companies choose to do an online wellness program, which of course is normally the least expensive option to choose.  Employees log on and register in the beginning, but rarely utilize the program over a two to six month period, or these employees “click through” a program in order to say they have completed it without gaining any type of benefit! Why? Because there is no follow up and commitment aspect.  Some US companies are finally realizing that these types of “wellness programs” are merely a band aid on an amputated arm!  It just doesn’t work. At a human level people need interaction and attention to build the culture, then the behavior changes can start to take place. It’s a process that needs to be nurtured.

Many companies look at “wellness programs” as something to check off the list when talking about insurance, benefits or human resource topics.  This is a grave mistake. A healthy workforce not only yields more productivity and less insurance claims that drive down aggregates, but it creates loyalty from the employees.  A wellness program isn’t simply a blood panel test taken once a year followed by a couple webinars and a pedometer. A true, and effective, wellness program takes into account the entire person on a physical, nutritional and emotional level. It deals directly with stress, quality of life, time management, productivity, planning and self esteem!  The cherry on top is the reduced health care costs and increased work output!

Don’t just “check off” wellness. Become involved, become the example and become the leader who creates a positive and productive culture for employees.

Listen to the full podcast here.

 

Danielle Girdano is a Certified Master Personal Trainer, who specializes in Childhood Obesity, Exercise for Persons with Diabetes, Postural Assessment & Corrective Exercises for Postural Abnormalities, Weight Loss, Strength and Endurance, Senior Fitness, Pregnancy & Postnatal Exercise, and Exercise Motivation & Psychology.  She is President of D’fine Sculpting & Nutrition LLC with offices in multiple US states. In addition to being one of only 12 worldwide professionals that sit on the prestigious Personal Training Advisory Board for The Cooper Institute based in Dallas TX, she was recently named to the “Top 40 Executives Under 40” by the Dallas Business Journal and nominated for the “2013 Chicago Innovation Awards” because of her mathematical based fitness programs.  She serves as Fitness Advisor for Synergy Worldwide based in Utah.

Meet the Very First Baby Boomer

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue calls it “America’s silver tsunami.”

The name Kathleen Casey-Kirschling likely doesn’t ring any bells with the majority of Americans.  She holds the singular honor of being the nation’s very first baby boomer, born one minute after midnight on January 1, 1946 in Philadelphia celebrating her 65th birthday on New Year’s Day.  A retired teacher, Casey-Kirschling is the first of approximately 78 million baby boomers who will begin collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits over the next 20 years.  The Pew Research Center reports that approximately 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day.  Baby boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1965, are celebrating their 65th birthdays between 2011 and 2030.  Despite a recent Pew survey that found baby boomers feel more downbeat than other generations about their future, Casey-Kirschling is taking a positive approach.  “I’m OK with knowing that I don’t know what tomorrow will bring,” she said.  “I’m going to live for today.  And I’m thankful that I could live for today, and I am healthy.”  Casey-Kirschling retired at 60 and began taking her Social Security benefits at age 62.

In an interview with AARP at the time of her retirement, she said “I don’t work compulsively anymore.  My priorities are now family and friends, and if something’s not fun, I don’t want any part of it.”  Today, the New Jersey resident works part-time, travels with her husband, and spends time with her children and grandchildren.  Because Casey-Kirschling opted to start collecting Social Security at age 62, she receives only about 75 percent of the total amount for which she was eligible –approximately $240 less per month.  If Casey-Kirschling had waited until her 66th birthday, she would have received full benefits; at age 70 she would have received 135 percent of full benefits.

When asked how she deals with her celebrity, Casey-Kirschling said “In the beginning, it was overwhelming.  But I said I’m just going to be who I am and do what I can, especially for Social Security.  They asked me to do public service (ads) for the generation and help baby boomers apply (for benefits) online and get direct deposit.  Whatever I could do, I would try to have a positive impact.  So many things are negative in the nation today.  Like all human beings, we are not a perfect generation.  We certainly created so much, built so much and have an incredible work ethic to this day.”

Like many of her fellow boomers Kathy leads a full and busy life,” said Jim Courtney, Social Security Deputy Commissioner for Communications.  “By choosing direct deposit, Kathy’s benefit is safely and conveniently deposited into her bank account.  No matter where in the country – or the world – Kathy is, her money is as close as the nearest ATM or just a mouse click away through online banking.”

David Walker, formerly the comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ legislative arm, warned that before too long, the Social Security system will have more recipients than it can afford to pay out “We face a tsunami of spending due primarily to the retirement of the baby boom generation and rising healthcare costs,” Walker said.  “So what’s happened is we’ve gone from 16 workers paying into Social Security for every person drawing benefits in 1950 to 3.3 to one today, and we’re going down to two to one by the time the boomers retire in big numbers and that’s about where it will stay over the long run.”

“I think I’m just lucky to be at the top of the boom.  I’m just one of many millions and am blessed to have been in this generation and really blessed and to take my Social Security now,” Casey-Kirschling said.

Nearly Half of Americans Have Saved Only $25,000 For Retirement

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Americans’ confidence in having adequate money to retire on has hit a 20-year low, according to a survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI).  “We’re getting the most pessimistic results we’ve ever seen,” said Jack VanDerhei, EBRI’s research director and the study’s co-author.  “Those that are not well prepared are finally starting to get it.  The bad news is they’re not really reacting to it yet,” VanDerhei said.  “Hopefully this will be something that in the future will generate more savings.  People were shell shocked to some extent by what was going on in 2008 and 2009,” said VanDerhei.  “Many people wouldn’t even open their 401(k) statements when they came every quarter because they were too afraid to look.”  Now these same people are determining if they have adequate money saved.  This pessimism is despite the fact that the average balance of a 401(k) account rose to $71,500 at the end of 2010, an increase of approximately 11 percent when compared with 2009, according to Fidelity Investments.

Approximately 27 percent reported that they have little confidence about the amount of their retirement savings, an increase over the 22 percent reported last year.  The increase was driven by people with less than $100,000 in savings, according to the report.  The percentage of those with less than $25,000 in savings who lack confidence about having enough money in retirement soared to 43 percent in 2011, an increase from the 19 percent reported in 2007.  Five percent reported that their savings totaled more than $100,000, about the same as 2007.  Nearly 1,000 workers and 250 retirees aged 25 and older were interviewed for the survey.  EBRI has conducted the survey since 1990.

High unemployment rates, the size of the federal deficit, rising healthcare costs, lower returns on investment and worries about Social Security and Medicare funding have forced Americans to redefine retirement, VanDerhei said.  Regulators and legislators are examining the risk of Americans outliving their savings as life expectancies increase and funds have shifted from traditional pension plans to defined-contribution plans such as 401(k)s.  The Labor Department is examining whether it should be easier for employers to add annuities to retirement accounts.  Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) re-introduced legislation that would require 401(k) plan sponsors to inform workers of the projected monthly income they can expect at retirement based on their current account balance.

Not all the news in the EBRI study is bad. “In the past, investors in general were clueless about how big of a nest egg it takes to accomplish their goals,” said Harold Evensky, a Coral Gables, FL, financial planner.  “The silver lining of going through a bad economy is that people are substantially more realistic about what they need to do.”  Although the majority of people have not yet made major changes, at least 62 percent say it is possible for them to save $25 a week for retirement. One expectation may need to be adjusted.  Among the 1,004 workers surveyed, 74 percent plan to work in retirement to supplement their savings, but just 23 percent of the 254 retirees surveyed say they have worked in retirement.

Tools are available online to help Americans saving for retirement determine how far they are on the road to financial stability.  Generally speaking, financial planners suggest putting away between 11 and 15 percent of each paycheck for retirement.  Additionally, the Department of Labor’s website has a section called “Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement”.

Half of Companies Plan to Hire New Employees in 2011

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Half of Companies Plan to Hire New Employees in 2011Approximately half – 47 percent – of American companies whose sales range from $25 million to $2 billion say they will hire more employees in 2011, according to a Bank of America survey of chief financial officers (CFOs).  The new number represents a significant uptick over the 28 percent who planned to hire new employees one year ago.  The news is not all good – 61 percent of companies who do not plan to hire said there is still reduced demand for their products or services.  The survey of 800 firms covered a broad range of industries throughout the United States.

The CFOs are unsure that the economic recovery will last, as well as being concerned about the impact of the healthcare reform law that Congress passed in March of 2010.  Their caution is evident in the fact that – on a scale of one to 100 – the CFOs gave the economy a rank of 47.  This represents a slight increase over the 44 level recorded last year.  An addition 64 percent expect their companies’ revenue will grow in 2011; 55 percent anticipate margin growth.

Despite the challenging economic climate, many CFOs have growing confidence that their companies have weathered the worst of the storm and are poised for expansion,” Laura Whitley, Bank of America’s global commercial products executive, said.  “Although concerns about the economy remain, the increase in CFOs who expect to hire employees could be crucial to improving the nation’s unemployment rate.  It’s exciting to see a more positive mood.”  Yet, she noted, the recovery has been slower than expected.  “When talking with businesses we hear it all the time.”