Poor home working set-ups are causing thousands of workers discomfort, as more employees are developing some form of musculoskeletal pain. Surveys show over 70% of employees are experiencing new or worsening musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) pain since working from home during the pandemic.
Enduring the Pain
MSD is a hot topic for the employee benefits industry and employers for good reason. An unbelievable 127 million Americans are living with some kind of musculoskeletal disorder. The occurrence of MSD is approximately the same as cardiovascular and chronic respiratory conditions combined. MSD was the #1 medical cost driver for employers pre-Covid, and it has become an even bigger problem for businesses due to the remote workers’ sedentary lifestyle.
For better or worse, we know that remote work will continue post-pandemic. Gartner recently reported that more than 80% of company executives plan to permit employees to work remotely at least part-time, and almost 50% will allow them to work remotely full-time.
A Pain in the Buck
MSDs have a huge financial burden on businesses driving absenteeism, lost productivity, disability, and worker’s compensation costs.
- MSDs are the leading cause of pain, suffering, and disability in American workplaces
- MSDs account for 33% of all workers compensation costs
- Direct costs of MSDs are $20 billion a year in the US
- Indirect costs (lost productivity, product defects, etc.) of an MSD case can be up to five times the direct costs
- MSD cases require 38% more lost time days than the average injury/illness.
Watch Your Back
Employee health and well-being is a top priority for companies in 2021, and we can help customize your health and wellness employee benefits to maximize your ROI.
More benefits plans are taking into account the entire MSD journey:
- Prevention programs: to increase movement and build strength before problems arise
- Acute care: fast access when pain occurs
- Chronic care: continued holistic support via team care
- Surgery: pre-and post-surgery rehabilitation
Improving chronic care has the highest immediate ROI potential. 75% of MSD dollars are spent on chronic conditions with elective surgeries such as spinal fusion. Despite the high costs, surgery can lead to poorer outcomes.
Clinical research studies show that conservative preventive and acute care, such as exercise therapy, behavioral health, and education, should come before drugs and surgery; and offer the highest long-term ROI.
Many employee benefits programs offer a holistic approach to overall healthcare where treatment includes both mental and physical wellness. For example, MSD care may include a dedicated physical therapist who offers expertise on movement and exercise and a personal health coach who specializes in helping people form good habits by sticking with an exercise program and making key behavior and lifestyle changes for long-term relief.
After social isolation and loneliness, lack of movement is the top challenge of working from home. Because this stress, anxiety, and depression are closely related to chronic pain, many doctors believe in treating both mental and physical wellness to improve both conditions.
On that note, I’m off to a yoga class. Feel free to reach out to me here for more advice about employee benefits.