State of the State’s Well-Beings

states well-being indexRecently the 2014 State Well-Being Rankings were released from Gallup-Healthways, who have looked at data over the past seven years to determine how each state ranks in terms of well-being.

They asked individuals to self-report on elements that are related to well-being like social (having support and relationships), physical (good health and daily energy), environmental (liking your community and feeling safe), financial (managing your finances to reduce stress and insecurity) and purpose (liking what you do and feeling motivated). They conducted over 176,000 interviews with adults in all the states and asked about these well-being metrics. The researchers think that high rates of well-being correspond to rates of healthcare utilization, workplace performance and absenteeism, a change in obesity rates and others. Healthier workers may be happier workers.

There are a few states that have been consistently ranked at the top, like Colorado, Alaska and Hawaii. Others have been consistently ranked at the bottom, like West Virginia and Kentucky. The results follow a regional pattern. Higher ranked well-being areas are in the middle and western part of the country while lower ranked areas are in the south and Midwest.

North Dakota took a dive from the top spot last year to being 23rd this year- which residents attribute to higher smoking rates, less exercise and less healthy eating habits.

What does this mean in terms of workers’ comp? Employees who work in higher ranked states may just be more engaged at work or with their customers, have fewer turnover rates and have higher rates of workplace safety. Workers who are healthier and have fewer rates of co-morbidities may also determine the length of claims in the event that they are injured at work, as co-morbidities can make it harder for a work injury to heal. Gallup estimates that employees who have a high level of overall well-being have 41% fewer health-related costs than their co-workers who are lower on the well-being scale. Things like direct medical costs, missed days of work, short-term disability and lost productivity can cost employers a little over $7,000 more for their employees who are considered “suffering” on Gallup’s well-being scale, than their employees who are considered “thriving”.

Employers who can motivate their employees and turn them into engaged workers have a better chance at getting them to buy into a wellness program, and also have a better chance at improving that employee’s overall workplace wellness- not just in terms of physical health but also in job satisfaction and involvement.

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