The Value of a Healthy Workforce

By Kindred Healthcare


 Ronald S. Leopold, MD, MBA, MPH Ronald S. Leopold, MD, MBA, MPH


In the last presentation of the 2013 Kindred Clinical Impact Symposium, Ronald Leopold, MD, MBA, MPH, Senior Vice President, National Practice Leader, Health and Productivity for Wells Fargo Insurance Services, talked about the business value of a healthy workforce.

People are remaining in the workforce longer than ever before, and perhaps longer than they had planned, Leopold said.

“Your ability to earn a living is your biggest financial asset,” he said.

And companies, in turn, are well-served to encourage a healthy workforce.

“It’s in [companies’] best interest to get their workforces healthier and more importantly, it’s in your own best interest,” Leopold said.

How can individuals do that? First, they can pick realistic goals and stick with them. Have a healthy lifestyle – move around, eat well, consider behavior changes – what are you doing that you shouldn’t be doing and vice versa?

He pointed out that the “real food” is on the perimeter of the supermarket, not in the middle. That sodium hides in restaurant foods. If you have a condition, you’re not the expert, just like a doctor who does not specialize in his own condition should not be treating himself: “The doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient,” as the adage goes.

How do companies encourage healthy workforces? Leopold suggested keeping some things in mind.

  • What are your benefits business objectives? Do we want to be a culture of health and we don’t care what it costs? Or are we looking to lower costs?
  • What does your healthcare cost trend look like?
  • What is your company size?
  • How are your people distributed geographically?
  • What is your culture around providing benefits?
  • How comfortable are you with carrots or sticks? Incentives?
  • What industry are you in? Hiring clinicians is different than hiring people to work on loading docks, for example.
  • What part(s) of the country are you in?
  • What is your age/ gender distribution?
  • What is your average tenure?
  • How comfortable are your people with technology?

“Most people agree that healthcare costs are growing and we have to get them down, and if we can get people healthier, we’ll spend less money,” Leopold said. “And most importantly, it’s the right thing to do.”

What are Some Easy Things we can do to Create a Healthier Workplace?

  • Walking team meetings
  • Mental breaks via meditation
  • Facility-to-facility competitions centered around healthy behaviors

Ronald S. Leopold, MD, MBA, MPH