A well-run workplace wellness program helps employees stay healthy and helps employers reduce overall health spend. But at its core often sits a key principle: Education.
This idea was recently amplified by David M. Cutler, the Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics at Harvard University with secondary appointments at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and School of Public Health.
While Cutler’s focus is the U.S. education system, many of his points are relevant for workplace wellness programs, as well. His ideas were published in Politico in a piece titled “The school-first solution.”
Benefits of Education
Among the proposals that amplify the principles behind a well-run workplace wellness program include:
- Education matters: “I have come to believe that the most cost-effective dollar in health is the one spent on education… [Education] addresses the entire panoply of adverse health behaviors.”
- Behavior matters: “Behavior is the key. When we compare geographic regions, the dominant factor driving health differences is how Americans behave. Unhealthy areas smoke more, drink more and eat to excess; healthier areas avoid these behaviors. Adverse health behaviors account for 40 percent of deaths in the United States. Reduce those deaths and the population can live much longer.”
- Connecting education to result: “By every metric measured, more educated people have healthier behaviors than less educated people. More educated people smoke less, weigh less, and are less likely to drink to excess. They wear seat belts more regularly, receive more preventive care, and take chronic care medications more faithfully. As a result, morbidity and mortality are lower for those with more education.”
- Interventions matter: “There is also good evidence that the relationship between education and health is causal, not just a coincidence. Interventions that increase the amount of education people receive also improve their health.”