Program Supports Business Focus On Well-Being

March 14, 2024

Medical costs for employees are expensive. Encouraging members to make healthy choices and prioritize well-being can help address this concern for business owners. But it isn’t just about the bottom line. Workplace wellness also improves productivity. 

Data from Gallup shows* that preventable conditions make up 75 percent of medical costs. 

No need to worry. South Carolina businesses don’t have to create an effective workplace well-being program on their own. BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina has resources to help its group members. 

The South Carolina Healthy Business Challenge* can help, too. The challenge is a collaborative program between the Medical University of South Carolina’s (MUSC’s) Office of Health Promotion and the City of Charleston with support from BlueCross. 

It aids businesses and organizations in improving overall health and well-being of employees. The goal is to reduce the growing cost of preventable illness and disease. The program hopes to create a culture of wellness in the workplace. 

“We are challenging businesses to make this a priority. The primary focus is bringing people together who work in wellness in their companies and provide them a place to network with each other, learn from each other,” says Susan Johnson, founder of the program and director of Health Promotion at MUSC. “Then we bring in expert speakers to share content on best practices. And we connect them to local resources in their community that can help support their goals.” 

The group hosts seminars in three areas of the state — the Upstate, the Midlands and the Lowcountry. These events* are free. The sessions focus on current worksite well-being trends and provide local resources to help businesses bring the efforts to their employees. 

“We want to get the word out that this amazing program is free. We are really excited to see it grow and the momentum from people taking advantage of what we can offer,” she says.

Site visits to businesses also showcase how South Carolina companies are prioritizing employee health. Mount Pleasant Water Works was the first spotlight site visit.  

Group of men and women in suits at state house with columns in background Hover image
ballroom with tables and man speaking into microphone Hover image

(Above) Susan Johnson (middle) and her team hope to encourage more South Carolina businesses to build healthy workplaces to support their employees. 

(Below) The Healthy Business Challenge hosts seminars across the state to bring resources to businesses. 

“It gives them an opportunity to share everything that they're doing around work site well-being and showcase it to other business leaders,” she says. 

As the group is growing, so are the programs it offers. This year, they launched a fellowship program with seven fellows representing seven organizations in the Lowcountry. The fellows will attend quarterly in-person cohort sessions, and SCHBC mentors will conduct site visits for each of the businesses in the cohort. Then each fellow will pick two dimensions of well-being they want to focus on in their workplace before the end of the year. 

“They will get to know each other and learn from each other. And then they'll share what they're working on,” Johnson says. 

The program is making a difference. Participants often talk about the impact their work has on employees. 

“When I first started this work years ago, it was all about the ROI, how is this going to impact my health insurance premiums? And now that's so downstream. What you need to focus on is the indirect costs of absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, getting people to stay at work and be at work, and be engaged and not be one foot out the door,” she says. “That's how we can impact them. Especially in this current environment with what businesses are facing and what the pain points are. That's where this can really have an impact.” 

*These links lead to third-party websites. Those organizations are solely responsible for the contents and privacy policies on their sites. 

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