CSR and Competitiveness (3 of 4): Health and Wellness

March 2, 2010

In the February e-newlsetter, Lydia Ashanin of Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) drew a very compelling connection between the health and wellness of today’s youth (future employees) and the future productivity and competitiveness of the companies that employ them. Her commentary is below.

(See also: CSR and competitiveness posts on Environment and Energy , Education and Jobs Creation.

[Editor's note: Leading companies and partner organizations will address this topic -- and other competitiveness topics such as the environment, education, and jobs -- at BCLC's conference, Provide and Prosper: Corporate Citizenship and Competitiveness in the 21st Century.]

 

Chronic diseases account for 75% of all that we as a society spend on health care. And obesity is the leading contributor to chronic disease. With those two facts in mind, business needs to begin investing in childhood wellness because the (unhealthy) 10-year-old children of today will be the (unhealthy) 25-year-old employees in only 15 years. 

Globally competitive American companies need healthy employees to maintain a productive workforce and to control benefits costs. Managing costs is key to profitability and therefore, investing in health and wellness is ultimately a strategic investment in cost control. 

Achieving that healthy workforce tomorrow demands an investment today. At Health Care Service Corporation, (HCSC) we’ve long been focused on childhood wellness as part of our mission. As a member-owned mutual legal reserve health plan, we can take the long view and invest in supporting health changes that may take a generation to become apparent. For that reason, we’ve committed to working with our key stakeholders to help address childhood obesity.

 

Through investing in signature programs such as The OrganWise Guys and Marathon Kids, and through targeted grassroots community grants for children’s nutrition and fitness, we’ve built community-based public-private collaborations that focus on changing behaviors for both children and their parents over time.

America’s obesity epidemic will not be resolved immediately, and the long tail of chronic disease is already showing up in children with high cholesterol levels and Type II diabetes. Teachers, physicians, dietitians, after school programs all have their part to play in the solution.  So too, does business. By investing in children’s health, by supporting family health, and by promoting employee wellness, business will be helping restore the health of our communities.

HCSC is committed to taking a leadership role in our communities. We invite you to join us in working for a healthy America.