I recently heard Michael Critelli, Executive Chairman of Pitney Bowes Inc., talk about what the company has learned about the value of providing quality health benefits and services to their employees.
Because they have a workforce that is divided between their offices and customers facilities, Pitney Bowes has been able to conduct a natural experiment and see how providing access to different health and wellness services can effect their employees and the company’s costs. What they found was that providing a good quality health benefits package in conjunction with healthy food and exercise options, etc., has reduced health care costs for their employees that work in their own offices compared to employees who work off-site.
I haven’t been able to connect with Mr. Critelli to get more data, but he did state that the saving have been around $2.3:1. Pitney Bowes careers web-site states, “We recognize that our people are key to our success. Simply speaking, our business growth depends on the talent of our people.” This sounds like the rhetoric that many companies use, but apparently at some level they actually put their money behind this statement.
Implications for Health Reform
At a time when some are proposing to shift the tax incentives for the purchase of health insurance from the employer to the employee – which would dramatically reduce the percentage of health insurance provided by employers – the experiences of companies like Pitney Bowes should be very informative. Having grown up in the Insurance Capital of the World, I saw how companies that understand the value of employees health and satisfaction make extensive efforts to promote both. Only time will tell what direction health reform will take in the US, and whether immediate cost reduction or longer-term health and productivity of the workforce will be the higher priority.