Coke Moves Ahead in Improving Employee Health

It seems that the leading business houses in the United States have strong belief in the adage “health is wealth”. Coca-Cola Co., along with some other top US corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, has pledged to work to improve employee health. Last month, the leaders of all these corporations unveiled a campaign for reducing healthcare costs in the country and urged peers to take part in wellness programs for improving employee health.

The group taking care of all the proceedings of the above mentioned campaign has been named The CEO Council on Health and Innovation; its name has been derived from the fact that it has chief executive officers of the largest US corporations as its members. The group will lead the country’s business community as it will work to improve community and employee health and reduce healthcare expenditure.

Other than the CEOs of Coca Cola and Johnson & Johnson, the council also has executives from Aetna Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Walgreen Co., Bank of America, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), McKinsey & Company, and Institute for Advanced Health, as its members. According to numbers put up recently, the council’s healthcare benefits currently cover as many as 150 million people.

The council together with the non-profit organization Bipartisan Policy Center released a report at a press conference held in Washington. The report was released to urge employers to start adopting all-inclusive wellness programs that will work to facilitate weight management, improve nutrition, encourage physical activity, manage chronic health conditions, and help employees to quit smoking.

Employers were also requested to increase incentives for accelerating adoption of the wellness programs by employees and make amendments to health benefits offered by them to encourage workers become more health conscious and make changes to their lifestyle for improving health.

Here, it should be noted that the United States already boasts an extremely rich workplace wellness program industry. The country’s business community is extremely fond of these programs as they come with the promise of improving productivity, cutting down medical costs and reducing absenteeism by protecting employees from expensive illnesses.

Different companies adopt different procedures to make employers follow their wellness regulations. While some employers prefer to encourage their workers by offering monetary incentives for adhering to their plans, there are also several companies who impose penalty on workers if they fail to comply with their wellness initiatives.

California’s event saw chief executives forming the council describing wellness initiatives taken by their respective companies. Each one of them said that these wellness programs have helped them in reducing costs both for their company and employees.

However, there are also some studies, which have shown that these programs don’t always succeed in cutting costs as much as they are expected to do. For instance, a report released earlier this year revealed that PepsiCo’s wellness program although managed to cut down expenditure for workers diagnosed with chronic health problems by successfully preventing hospital admissions, but failed to save any significant money for workers who were forced to make preventive lifestyle changes.

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