The future doesnâ€™t look any better with health care costs expected to pass the $2 trillion mark by 2007, industry figures report.
â€œI think youâ€™re seeing American businesses at the crossroads,â€ says David Hunnicutt, the president of WELCOA, based in Omaha, Neb. He says surveys show 88 percent of U.S. businesses now offer some sort of health or fitness promotion, but most are as simple as a poster hanging in a lunchroom or a brochure included with a paycheck. The number of workplaces that offer real, organized health and fitness programs on the job is about ten percent of U.S. companies, he says.
Businesses are learning that fit employees make better workers, he says. Union Pacific Railroad, a leader in workplace wellness, initially invested $2.5 million in health and fitness promotions for employees. That same year, the company saw a $50-million drop in health care costs.
â€œTwenty years ago, people were wondering what wellness was,â€ Hunnicutt says. â€œNow companies inherently know that wellness programs are a big part of the solution, and theyâ€™re scrambling to implement them.â€