HR Administration

CFOs Say Keeping Worker Health Benefits a Boon for Business

By Rebecca Vesely

Mar. 7, 2012

Two-thirds of chief financial officers believe that providing comprehensive health coverage is important for their companies’ financial strategy, but they say they lack information that could help them improve the health of employees, according to a new survey of more than 300 CFOs.

The survey, conducted by the Integrated Benefits Institute in San Francisco, indicates that the C-suite is increasingly involved in decisions regarding health benefits and the wellness of workers.

For instance, in 2006, just half of CFOs surveyed by the institute said they have access to absentee information about their workers. But today, three-fourths of CFOs surveyed say they have that data.

“That tells me that CFOs see health beyond health care costs,” says Thomas Parry, president of the Integrated Benefits Institute. “They see absence as a productivity problem.”

Contrary to some prior surveys indicating that employers would drop health care benefits under federal health care reform, most CFOs surveyed by the institute say maintaining the good health of their employees offers a competitive advantage. Some 69 percent say they agree or strongly agree that promoting healthy behaviors is a company priority, the survey shows.

A full 70 percent of executives say they trusted their company’s own claims costs the most when making decisions about improving the health of their workforce. Less credible information included supplier recommendations, modeling from others’ experiences and information from outside the company.

Still, the CFOs say they face deficits of information to make health-improvement decisions, such as how health is affecting job performance and return on investment for health interventions. Some 67 percent say they would like information on return on investment for health interventions but that it is not available.

Andy Hunzeker, CFO of Lincoln Industries, a metal finishing supplier in Lincoln, Nebraska, says he is surprised at that finding.

“We have all the tools we need,” he says of data related to workforce health. “Part of picking suppliers is getting the information we want to be able to analyze our health intervention programs.”

Hunzeker says the health of his workforce is very important to Lincoln Industries’ overall success. “We view it as a competitive advantage.”

Rebecca Vesely is a writer based in San Francisco. To comment email

Workforce Management, March 2012, p. 9Subscribe Now!

Rebecca Vesely is a writer based in San Francisco.

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