With the price of health insurance plans increasing and the epidemic of lifestyle diseases growing, many employers across the United States are establishing employee health and wellness programs.
Unhealthy lifestyle choices like inactivity, poor nutrition, and smoking, can lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Obesity and related chronic diseases results in employers spending over $93 billion per year in health insurance claims.
There is no denying that chronic diseases have a huge impact on employee health and overall well-being and the cost of health insurance. Over the past decade employers have been adopting health promotion and workplace wellness programs to help combat the cost of health insurance and increase the health and wellness of their employees.
It’s no secret that truck drivers have unique health risks. Life on the road is tough on your health. A 2014 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that long-haul truck drivers were twice as likely to be obese than the adult working population. The survey revealed that out of 1,670 drivers interviews, over 69% were obese and 54% smoked regularly.
Employee wellness programs are common in corporate office jobs, but in the recent years large long-haul fleets have developed and rolled out driver health and wellness programs to increase the health of their drivers. Melton Truck Lines, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has always had health initiatives in place, but it wasn’t until eight years ago the company got serious about driver health.
In 2007 Melton hired a qualified wellness educator to run their newly launched weight loss program and voluntary lipid-panel blood testing program to help determine cardiovascular risk. Within a year the company turned their main office indoor smoking lounge into an employee gym. Over the years Melton has expanded their wellness programs to include a healthy food café, larger in-house gym with fitness classes, and an on-site medical clinic in three of its terminals.
Celadon Trucking, another large long-haul trucking company, began their popular “Highway to Health” driver wellness program in 2006. The program includes health screening, educational seminars, weight loss programs, and various incentives to promote making healthy life choices. In 2011 the company added a full-service medical clinic at its Indianapolis headquarters offering primary care appointments, prescription services, fitness and nutritional coaching, and physical therapy.
Both companies have shown success with the their wellness programs. Drivers have utilized the programs and are on the road to health. However, measuring the success of wellness programs can be difficult. Changes don’t happen overnight, but over the long term.
As the prevalence of chronic diseases and the cost of health care continue to increase, the evolution of employee wellness programs will increase in the corporate environment. The trucking industry is a unique industry with drivers facing major health risks due to the trucking lifestyle, but several major fleet companies are investing in their drivers’ health.
Ben Franklin once said: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We couldn’t agree more.