Speed Bumps as the Construction Industry Grows
Construction Risks, Growth and Wellness Programs
Construction is back…back again. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 290,000 construction jobs were added in 2014 – the best industry performance since 2005. Over the next decade, the U.S. Department of Labor projects the industry to add another 1.6 million jobs. Good news, right? You hope so, but all this growth is not without some headwinds:
- Healthcare costs are continuing to rise
- Widespread labor shortages are forcing firms to consider increasing benefits to construction professionals and craft workers
- Experienced workers left the industry and aren’t coming back, leading to the recruitment of new workers than need training and are more susceptible to risk and injury on the jobsite
The quick answer that many construction companies might jump to is safety. While we always promote safety as a great way to minimize risk and injury in the workplace, it’s not the only answer. Construction companies also need to maximize the health of their workforce and understand how employee benefits and wellness programs play an integral role in not only recruiting talent (impediment 2 above), but also reducing insurance costs (impediment 1 above). Here are a few other reasons why you should institute or rely on a wellness program:
Cruising Ahead with Wellness
Workplace wellness refers to the education and activities that a worksite may sponsor to promote healthy lifestyles for employees and their families. Examples of wellness initiatives include health education classes, subsidized use of fitness facilities, internal policies that promote healthy behavior, and any other activities, policies or environmental changes that affect the health of employees.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promotes the formation of workplace wellness programs because, according to one of its studies, employees in companies with “a strong culture of health” are three times as likely to actively strive to improve their health. There are numerous benefits to workplace wellness when employees see the value and participate.
Control costs. Healthcare costs are a significant portion of a company’s budget, so strategically targeting this expense can benefit an employer’s bottom line. An investment in your employees' health may lower healthcare costs or slow the cost increases. Employees with more health risk factors, including being overweight, smoking and having diabetes, cost more to insure and pay more for healthcare than people with fewer risk factors. A wellness program can help employees with high risk factors make lifestyle changes to improve their quality of life and lower costs, while also helping employees with fewer risk factors remain healthy.
More productive employees. Research shows that workplaces with wellness programs have employees who are more productive at work.
Less missed work. Healthier employees mean fewer sick days, which is another benefit companies generally achieve through wellness programs. Plus, employees’ healthier behavior may translate into better family choices, so employees may also miss less work caring for ill family members. Reduced absenteeism can yield significant cost savings and return on your wellness investment.
Reduced workers’ compensation and disability costs. Employees who make healthy changes and lower their health risk factors often have a reduced chance of a workplace injury or illness or a disability. In both cases, this can save the employer money, not just on insurance premiums and benefits paid out, but also on the replacement cost of recruiting and training a new worker to replace one who is out of work for health reasons.
Higher morale and improved recruiting. A company that cares about its employees' health is often seen as a better place to work, and wellness programs can attract top talent in a competitive market, where more experienced construction workers are harder to find. In addition, expressing a commitment to your employees’ health can improve morale and strengthen retention.
Employees who experience these positive changes and benefits will often feel more loyalty to the company and be more grateful for the company’s commitment to their health.
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