Chief financial officers have a strong understanding that employee health has an impact on a company’s financial performance, and they are playing a larger role in health care benefits decisions, according to new research by nonprofit Integrated Benefits Institute.
"So many employers have downsized in this tough economy that now more than ever, it's important for employers to truly maximize the productivity of their employees," says Thomas Parry, PhD, president of IBI. "This research shows how CFOs crystallize the impact of health on financial performance and on productivity and particularly focuses on the kinds of information critical to their health-investment decisions."
The research also reveals that more than two-thirds of respondents say health is a cultural or financial priority in their organizations, and 75 percent of respondents believe providing comprehensive health coverage is important for their companies’ financial strategies. Among the respondents, more than 90 percent say at minimum improving health is a moderately important contributor to work force productivity while more than 80 percent say finance professionals typically collaborate for benefits decisions with other departments, including human resources, executive leadership and operations.
"Companies that integrate wellness as part of their culture consider it a competitive advantage in the marketplace," says Andy Hunzeker, CFO of Lincoln Industries. "CFOs at companies with a strong culture of health – and those who receive health and productivity management program results in terms of their firm's strategic financial goals – are more likely than others to recognize that work force health impacts financial success in more ways than just health care expenses. Also on their radar are sick leave, turnover and opportunity costs, such as missed revenues or reduced product or service quality."
The research shows that credible information and methods for gauging health risks and outcomes beyond medical and pharmacy costs, including lost time, health-related performance and lost productivity, are crucial, and CFOs should partner with those in their organization who can offer metrics and sources to help them identify the impacts of health interventions.
"This research indicates a new paradigm, and when paradigms change, it's generally a small group that leads the way," says David Hoke, global wellness manager at Yum! Brands and IBI board member. "These CFOs get it, and they are well-positioned to take a competitive advantage by promoting the health of their work force."