Thursday, July 07, 2005

Aging U.S. Workforce Creates Challenges to Corporate Health and Productivity

New research conducted by UnumProvident Corporation, a provider of group and individual disability income, focuses on the aging American workforce, particularly on the potential health and productivity predicaments that demand a response from employers, medical providers and the workers themselves. According to the findings reported in "Health & Productivity in the Aging American Work Force: Realities and Opportunities,"
  • Although workers age 40 and older experience a lower incidence of work injuries, short term disability and unscheduled absences than younger workers, the average amount of time they will miss due to an injury or illness is greater by nearly a third.
  • Workers older than age 40 account for 50 percent of all short-term disability claims and up to 75 percent of long-term disability claims.
  • Primary reasons for long term work disruptions for this age group include impairments of the musculoskeletal and circulatory systems as well as mental and cancer disorders.
  • The additional presence of risk factors such as smoking, lack of exercise and obesity can result in healthcare costs for this population that are nearly 300 percent higher than the younger workforce.
The report notes that companies that develop programs to support and promote preventive health care among their baby boomer employees will encourage behavior that can counter these trends. By putting programs in place that provide incentives for workers to have healthier lifestyles, lost time and health care costs can be reduced. It provides a case study from Coors Brewing Company to model such corporate response.

Source: News Release UnumProvident (July 7, 2005)

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