Recession Backlash: Stress, Absenteeism, Healthcare Costs All Rising

New HeartMath® case study shows lower healthcare costs through reducing stress

Boulder Creek, California — January 6, 2010 — Repercussions of recession-related layoffs have started showing up throughout the nation in the form of increased stress, increased absenteeism, and rising healthcare costs. Numerous companies have had to cut back their workforce in order to survive the recession, and in most cases the remaining workers now carry an added workload resulting in longer hours. It’s no surprise that healthcare costs and absenteeism are on the rise in many companies, say experts at HeartMath®, internationally recognized authorities on stress reducing and resilience building solutions. Employers implementing HeartMath programs report a significant drop in healthcare costs, absenteeism and turnover rates, and increased employee satisfaction and productivity from HeartMath trained workers. This is resulting in a considerable positive impact on the bottom line. A newly released HeartMath case study demonstrates how their scientifically validated and ROI-driven approach has reduced healthcare costs for the employer while increasing vitality, wellbeing and resilience and reducing stress for employees.

Much of today’s remaining workforce whose burden lies in heavier workloads following recession-related layoffs are even more stressed than before, as reflected in rising healthcare costs and the growing number of employees turning to employee assistance programs (EAPs) for help. A worldwide benefits consulting firm stated that nearly half of the 282 large companies they surveyed reported an increase in the use of employee assistance programs, 22 percent reported an increase in unplanned absences, and 78 percent of employers cited “excessive work hours” as a leading cause of employee stress. Towers Perrin also released new survey data which involved 321 companies. Their survey showed that the 2009 average annual healthcare cost per employee is $9,660 — an increase of 6% over their 2008 figures.

While healthcare costs are on the rise, there are companies that are successfully mitigating the damaging effects through a variety of health management programs. An example of this is the HeartMath program called Revitalize You!™. With this ROI-driven stress reduction program employers are reporting a significant drop in healthcare costs, absenteeism and turnover rates, and increased employee satisfaction and productivity from HeartMath trained workers. This is resulting in a considerable positive impact on the bottom line. In 2006 the Reformed Church in America (RCA) introduced the HeartMath Revitalize You! program to their 2,000-plus active and retired RCA pastors in an effort to improve clergy wellbeing while reducing the higher-than-average healthcare claim costs.

At a time when national medical claim costs were trending upwards at 9% per year, HeartMath’s program represented hope for controlling these costs. According to RCA Board of Benefits Services Director, Woody Bedell, “We knew that pastors were being negatively affected by stress, we knew that the HeartMath program could help participants become more resilient to stress, and we knew through biometric evaluations that participants could reduce their blood pressure, blood glucose and triglycerides. Since stress was such a prevalent issue with the pastors, we wanted to act quickly.”

The Board of Benefits Services of the RCA commissioned an independent actuarial analysis to assess the value of the HeartMath program.

The analysis provides compelling evidence of the effectiveness of the HeartMath programs in reducing both medical and pharmacy claim costs in comparison to the non-HeartMath participants.

• Medical claim costs for the HeartMath-trained participants declined by 3.8% from 2007 to 2008. Claim costs for non-HeartMath participants increased by 9% in that same period, roughly equivalent to the national trend.

• HeartMath participants had a 22.5% decrease in costs for essential hypertension (high blood pressure) diagnoses, compared to nonparticipants, who had a 46.9% increase in costs for essential hypertension diagnoses.

• Pharmacy cost trends were lower for HeartMath participants (7.9%) than for nonparticipants (13.3%).

• HeartMath training saved the church $585 per participant in its first year.

• The one-year return on investment (ROI) in the HeartMath program was 1.95:1, or $1.95 for every $1 invested in the program. The projected ROI for the second year is 3.90:1, or $3.90 for every $1 invested.

“This study validates what we thought… we saved money and improved health,” said Bedell, “The HeartMath program is designed to create and maintain a positive emotional response to day-to-day challenges. The program gave RCA participants more mental clarity and definitely helped them reduce stress and the negative impact it was having on their health and performance. Our pastors were taught practical techniques and learned to incorporate the emWave® technology, these are tools that they could literally use anytime, anywhere. I feel that this was a key factor in the program’s success.

“We have hard numbers and data to show the effectiveness of the program to our board, who will be thrilled with 2:1 ROI after the first year and 4:1 ROI expected for next year. In effect, HeartMath has given our organization a double bottom line. It has reduced medical costs and it has provided our pastors with the ability to deal with stress in a very positive and productive manner. The program has clearly exceeded our expectations and in 2010 we will offer HeartMath’s Revitalize You! new e-learning platform to both the pastors and their spouses, who are also covered by our health plan.”

HeartMath experts say that employers who focus on health and prevention are more likely to create an organizational culture that is strong and sustainable. The Towers Perrin report concluded that the difference between high- and low-performing companies could be boiled down to a few key elements, including this: high performers focus consistently on supporting and improving employee health. HeartMath experts agree and say that the high performing companies know that good health is good business, particularly at a time of increasing stress and the aging of the major segment of the workforce: baby boomers.


About HeartMath:
HeartMath LLC ( is a cutting-edge performance company providing a range of unique services and programs, products, and technology to improve health and well-being, while dramatically reducing stress and boosting performance and productivity. HeartMath research studies have demonstrated significant improvements in clinical outcomes such as hypertension, cognitive performance and metabolic syndrome, and organizational outcomes such as staff retention, health claim cost reduction, employee and customer satisfaction. HeartMath studies have been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as American Journal of Cardiology, Stress Medicine, Preventive Cardiology and the Harvard Business Review. Organizational clients include Stanford Business School, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, Duke Medical Center, NASA, the VA, as well as dozens of school systems and
thousands of health professionals around the world.

About Reformed Church in America:
The Reformed Church in America ( is a family of churches throughout the U.S. and Canada. Today, the RCA includes 300,000 people of many cultures across the North American continent, remembering their heritage, growing together, reforming always to do the work of the global Christian church. The RCA is a founding member of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. Some regional bodies of the RCA belong to the National Association of Evangelicals.

This press release was distributed through PR Web by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: on behalf of the company listed above.