Employees are more committed to working on their immediate health goals, such as back or joint pain, than longer-term health goals, such as managing diabetes or hypertension, a new report shows.
The survey was published on Wednesday by HealthJoy, a healthcare navigation platform for employers. It had a total of 2,534 respondents, all employees of the company’s client employers.
About 47% of American adults have hypertension and 14% have diabetes. Still, 12 percent of respondents set a goal to manage their blood pressure, and 6 percent set a goal to manage their diabetes, the survey found. By comparison, about half of Americans have a musculoskeletal disorder, and 35% of respondents are interested in managing back or joint pain.
Musculoskeletal disorders account for $420 billion in annual healthcare costs, yet only 28% of employers have a point-in-time solution for the condition. Hypertension is responsible for $131 billion in annual health care costs, and type 2 diabetes accounts for $327 billion. And 32% of employers have a point solution for hypertension and 33% have a point solution for type 2 diabetes.
This signals that employers need to take a “mixed approach” when thinking about the programs they offer their employees, said Justin Holland, CEO and founder of HealthJoy.
“I can understand that there are some of these expensive items that they want to address,” he said in an interview. “But we also have to pay attention to the fact that [employees] they have things right in front of them that affect their lives. How do we bring that more health to the whole person in this way [employers] building these plans and making sure they resonate with the people who will use them?”
The study also found that younger adults were more likely than older adults to have health goals. Almost 50% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 35 have a health goal, compared to 37% of employees between the ages of 46 and 65. Younger adults are also more likely to have a goal to improve their mental health: 80% of Gen Z adults and 60% of Millennials have this goal, compared to 45% of Gen Xers and 30% of Boomers.
“I don’t think it’s surprising, but it makes you think that if you’re a leader of people in companies that are going astray, you need to be aware of that and make sure you have those things in your plan,” Holland said. .
Women were also more focused on mental health than men, regardless of age, the study found. About 62% of women aim to improve their mental health, compared to 40% of men.
The study serves as a “reminder” to keep employees in mind when designing health benefits, despite the current economic climate, Holland said.
“I think we all know, especially in 2023, that price is at the forefront of the mind,” he said. “And it should be for many reasons, because we all know that benefits are your second largest budget item after wages. But there is a man behind it… It’s not just to keep costs down and it’s not just to make a profit. You actually have a person that you want to thrive and be healthier.”
Photo: Andrey Popov, Getty Images