Find your Financial Bliss

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

How many of you have found yourself in a situation where you looked at your recent credit card statement and are in disbelief by what you see, because like most, people are now tapping/swiping their cards without giving it much thought, and bringing your spendure to more than expected? Or, have you found yourself in a situation, where your cash income is going to be delayed, so now you don’t know how your going to cover your major, necessary expenses. If any of these situations or similar ones apply to you, just know you’re not the only ones. A Manulife study, states that about 40% of people in North America are financially unwell and 26% of people are doing “okay”. Meaning only 34% of people are making the right strides to better financial health.  

As nice winning the lottery would be nice, it often times actually will not make your financial situations better. More money does not equal better financial wellness, and here’s why: financial wellness is the relationship one has with money, meaning are you able to keep your spending within you comfort, and are prepared for any unexpected financial emergencies (do you have savings/rainy day funds); do you have access to any resources or tools that you need to make good financial decisions; are you ready for the future, have you started making plans to achieve your goals? These are the types of questions that should be surfacing in your mind when you think about your finances. When you think about your financial wellness, it shouldn’t feel like an uncomfortable topic, you shouldn’t have to get depressed every time you think of money (or lack thereof).

Now the overbearing question, why does any of this matter for both the employees and employers? When an individual (employee) has the financial bliss they need, they are able to produce better work because they’re more productive and more engaged, because they’re less stressed, and therefore are more likely to stay on the job.

According to a study by Mercer, when you have financially stressed employees, 22% have reported missing at least 1 work day to take care of any financial issues; 15% have spent more than 20 hours or more in a month while at work, thinking about their financial situations; and 20% said to actually leave their job because of their financial stress.

As employers, who want the best for their employees overall health, as well as retaining productive employees, it’s a matter that should be taken into the hands of the organization in order to provide tools that can help bring upon financial stability for their employees and as a result bringing down any indirect cost associated.  

Here are my top 3 tips for finding better financial wellness!

1. Plan

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Experts cannot stress enough how important planning is for your financial wellness. I know saving for the future and/or emergencies, isn’t as fun as splurging on unnecessary necessities, however planning ahead makes the world of a difference. Planning works hand in hand with goal setting, setting goals (both short, medium, and long term) will help make planning easier, figuring out what you value makes deciding where and how much you need to save for the future. It also makes daily/weekly spendings a lot easier to control since now you can differentiate what you need from what you want.

2. Investing

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Similar to planning, it’s essential that employees start investing into their future retirement, it’s never too early or too late to start. Investing into retirement savings that accumulate compound interest over time will help increase your savings without lifting a finger. Knowing you’re financially prepared for the future will  help release any stress or doubts you were having about life after retirement.

3. Control Debt 

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This last tip is a given, the best way to increase your financial wellness is by decreasing any financial debts that you have. Many of us have to juggle (student) loans, credit card payments, recurring expenses like car or housing, and much more. You’re priority when it comes to paying off loans or debt is to start with the ones with the highest interest rates, if you can clear those ones out first, it’ll be better for you in the long run because the higher the interest rates, the higher accumulation of debt.

Make the most of what you earn through Optimity, we can help you stay on track by providing you with the tools you need to make better strides with your financial wellness. Our platform, is innovating and constantly changing to meet the needs and demands of every busy individual. Let us help you, help yourself. We know that it can be hard to juggle your financial health as well as all other aspects of your wellness, but we can make that easier for you. Contact us to learn more about how you can make the burden of financial wellness easier and fun! All you need is the right platform with the right tools to help guide you!

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How Can an Employee Wellness Program Impact Your Bottom Line?

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Employers are increasingly focused on the well-being of their employees and continue to introduce wellness programs that address physical, sentimental, social, rational and financial health issues to assist employees in improving both their work and home life.

Employee sponsored wellness programs have been adopted by nearly two-thirds of companies and they make a great deal of effort to ensure that all their employees benefit from these programs. These programs have also become increasingly available via smartphones, which assist in helping individuals track many aspects of their health with ease.

The table below table highlights the ways in which both employers and employees can benefit from company wellness programs:

 

Benefit to Employers Benefit to Employees
Increase in productivity of employees Boost up employees morale and their efficiency
Reduced absenteeism Enhanced health condition
Strong bond with employees helps in retaining the employees Increase self-dependency and boosts confidence
Decreased healthcare cost helps save money Stress free life
Reduction in employees compensation claims Increased productivity helps gain positive rewards and promotion

 

Workplace wellness programs have the objective to enhance your work life and overall productivity. These programs aim to help employees, who are suffering from chronic disease, to adopt a healthy lifestyle, which can improve their quality of life and boost their confidence. This can, in turn, help the organisation’s bottom line.

 

Do wellness programs really help in reducing cost to employers?

As per the study done by RAND Corporation, wellness programs earn an average return on investment of $1.50 for every $1 invested by the employer. The study also found that there is positive correlation between wellness programs and the efficiency of employees. Another survey done with Citi Bank employees on the benefits of their wellness program depicts that on an average there were savings of $4.50 in healthcare costs per employee for every $1 invested on their wellness treatment. While a wellness programs may be costly to employers in the short term, its immense long-term benefits foster a win-win situation for the employers and the employees.

Whether a wellness program really helps employers save on healthcare costs is dependent on factors, such as whether the employer is ready to invest such a significant amount for long-term gain and commit to it. The wellness program needs to be included in the core culture of the organisation and employees need to be educated about its benefits, which will help them increase their productivity and lead a healthy life.

 

Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.

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Employers Turn to Workplace Wellness to Help Reduce Health Care Costs

Posted by Trista Chan

Employees are the assets of any organization, and to sustain these assets and benefit from their long term service, it’s vital to maintain their wellbeing. With the increase in awareness around living a healthy lifestyle, many employers now offer workplace wellness programs to their employees. These programs help in reducing healthcare costs and providing long term benefits to employees and their families. These programs also provide knowledge on eating a healthy diet, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and leading a happy and healthy life.

According to the reports of the Society for Human Resource Management, more than 70% of employers offer wellness programs to their employees, which is almost a 10-15% increase compared to previous years.

It’s expected that everyone, during some stage of their life will face some sort of health issue, whether it be due to an unhealthy diet, sleep deprivation, alcohol, or hereditary causes.  So by utilising the benefits from wellness programs employees can make positive changes in their health and overall productivity by reducing absenteeism, stress and increasing their performance and efficiency.
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So, why do employers offer wellness programs to employees?

Employers understand the fact that a healthy employee will fetch far better outcomes than an unhealthy employee. A wellness program can offer regular health checks of employees and their families, guide them on health risks and how to prevent them, provide regular medication and provide information on the importance of exercising. When an organization emphasizes how important it is that their employees are a part of the wellness program, the employees become more aware about leading a healthy life by following healthy habits.  This can also have a domino effect on the employees’ work lives. By providing your employees with a robust wellness program, you enable them to get more out of their life and become a happier person at work, which leads to more enjoyment at work, and better results for the company.

How do wellness programs help employers reduce healthcare cost?

Wellness programs help employees identify any health risks they have and provide information on how to live a healthy life. Participating in a wellness program can help in reducing an organization’s healthcare costs due to a decrease in absenteeism, reduction in medical claims, reduction in employee stress, boosted performance and increased social interaction with family and friends. When the employees are satisfied with their health and life in general, they are more likely to put in maximum efforts at work.

Basic services that are offered under a general wellness program includes stress management, obesity reduction, healthy diet plans, blood pressure checks, cholesterol level checks, fitness guides, time management sessions etc.  Although the initial outlay of implementing a wellness program can sometimes be costly, the overall healthcare costs are reduced significantly for both employers and employees.  For example, clients of Optimity see an ROI of $1.80 to $6.93 back for every $1 spent on wellness.

 

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Trista Chan is a Wellness Strategy Advisor at Optimity.  She leverages her education in nutrition and experience in corpoate health to guide organizations in building healthy, engaged employees.  Her “me-time” activities include yoga, reading health blogs, cooking….did she mention she likes wellness?  Her passion for all things health-related shines through in both her work and personal life.  

To learn more about how you can implement a strategic program to improve employee health outcomes and optimize work culture, contact me at tchan@myoptimity.com for a free consult.  I’ll be happy to support your organization in its wellness journey.

 

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Top 10 Scary Health Cost Stats that Employers Must Know for 2017

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena

 

From insurance coverage to increasing the productivity, good health of employees gives good returns to you in the long run. In order to get a high ROI here are the top 10 health cost stats that every employer must know in 2017…

 

1. Rising cost of biologics

Biological pharmaceuticals currently account for less than 3.5% of a corporation’s total healthcare expenditure. However, many new biologics are entering the marketplace and will soon represent 70% of the total medications. With it, the therapy costs can be $25,000 to $75,000, making the average cost of a biologic in the US about $45 compared to just $2 for chemical or molecule-based medicines.

 

2. Oral medication cost vs. injectable costs

Oral medication costs are generally charged to corporate benefits plans, whereas injectable medications and infused drugs are often covered by provincial health plans in Canada.

 

3. Smoking and lifestyle habits

There has been a considerable rise in chronic illness and obesity in the past decade. Smoking habits cost employers $570 million, whereas employees combating obesity cost about $73.1 billion per year.

 

4. Specialty Drugs vs. Transplantation costs

Spending on specialty medicines (medication for cancer, Hepatitis C, etc.) is expected to rise from $187 billion in 2016 to about $402 billion by 2020. Regular spending on specialty drugs can sometimes be higher than even transplant costs. For example, a person with mild liver disease can incur an average annual cost of $17,000 with specialty drugs—which will continue for 10 years, at least! However, compared to liver transplantation costs, the latter can be ten times cheaper.

 

5. The excessive rise in usage of prescription drugs in developed countries

Seventy percent of North Americans are on at least one prescription drug, while 5% of the world’s total population consumes 95% of the world’s prescription drugs. Lack of cost transparency and inaccurate information can result in unnecessarily costly medical bills.

 

6. Inappropriate usage of specialty drugs

There is a significant premature and overuse of specialty drugs. On an average, there is an annual waste of about $3,000 per patient due to inappropriate and unrequired usage of drugs.

 

7. Increase in cost of health insurance premiums

A recent study by National Group on Health, Washington, showed that there will be about a 6% rise in health insurance premiums in the year 2017. The major contributors to it will be specialty pharmacy (31%), high cost claimants (32%) and specific disease on conditions (17%). There will be an overall inflation of 11%.

 

8. Employers Shifting Costs to Workers

Currently, 36% of employers are considering a shared contribution strategy. About 12% of them have already adopted such strategy and this has helped them save over 4% of their expenditure on healthcare programs.

 

9. Medical cost trends needs to be recalibrated

With an 11.9% growth rate in 2007, the numbers for medical costs have steadily declined from from 6.8% in 2015 to 6.5% in 2017. While 50% is spent on outpatient and inpatient costs, there has been a considerable rise in share of pharmaceuticals from 17% to 20%, this year. Offering high deductible health insurance plans can be a savior for employers, yet a burden on employees if not utilized properly.

 

10. Hospitals demand higher prices

According to KHN, hospitals can directly employ physicians and create large and costly medical systems. Additionally, malpractices of premiums and unnecessary tests can cost employers more than $1,400 per person.
Follow us on Twitter to stay current on the top cost-containment wellness strategies.  To learn more about cessation programs for smoking and their impact on your ROI, check out this link: Corporate smoking cessation programs and ROI.

 

Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.

 

Sign up for Optimity to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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