Report: Employees Are More Focused on Immediate Health Goals Than Longer Term Goals

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Employees are more determined to work on their immediate health goals, like back or joint pain, than longer term health goals, like managing diabetes or hypertension, a new report shows.

The survey was published Wednesday by HealthJoy, a healthcare navigation platform for employers. It had 2,534 total respondents, all employees of the company’s employer customers. 

About 47% of American adults have hypertension and 14% have diabetes. Yet, 12% of respondents have set a goal to manage their blood pressure and 6% have a goal to manage their diabetes, the survey found. Comparatively, about half of Americans have a musculoskeletal condition, and 35% of respondents are interested in managing back or joint pain.

Musculoskeletal conditions account for $420 billion of annual healthcare costs, but only 28% of employers have a point solution for the condition. Hypertension is responsible for $131 billion of annual healthcare 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 have a “blended approach” when thinking about the programs they’re offering to their employees, said Justin Holland, CEO and founder of HealthJoy.

“I can understand that there are some of these high-cost items that they want to address,” he said in an interview. “But we also have to address the fact that [employees] have things right in front of them that are impacting their lives. How do we bring that more whole-person health into the way that [employers] are building these plans and making sure that it resonates with the people that are going to be using them?”

The survey also found that younger adults are 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 mental wellbeing: 80% of Gen Z adults and 60% of Millennials have this goal, compared to 45% of Gen X and 30% of Boomers.

“I don’t think this is surprising, but it does make you think if you’re a people leader of companies that are skewing younger, you need to be conscious of this and make sure you have these things in your plan,” Holland said.

Women are also more focused on mental health than men, regardless of age, the survey discovered. About 62% of women have a goal to improve their mental wellbeing, compared to 40% of men.

The survey serves as a “reminder” to keep employees in mind when designing health benefits, despite current economic climates, Holland said.

“I think we all know, especially coming into 2023, that cost is at the forefront of the mind,” he said. “And it should be for a lot of reasons because we all know that benefits are your second largest line item budget after salaries. However, there’s a person behind this … It’s not just to maintain cost and not just for a benefit. You actually have a person that you want to thrive and be healthier.”

Photo: AndreyPopov, Getty Images