Donald Fry -- State’s health initiative: a ‘win-win’ for employers and their workforces

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By Donald C. Fry

If you’re a business owner or manager, how would you like to start an initiative in your workplace that would save your company almost six times the cost to implement it and increase employee productivity?

What’s this strategy and how complicated is it, you ask? The answer is: it’s simple, and you won’t need an MBA from Harvard to set it up. Just participate in the state’s recently-launched Healthiest Maryland workplace wellness program.

Business managers can get started by completing an online workplace health management assessment. Then, make workplace options that promote healthy eating, physical activity, and access to preventive services available to employees, and track progress.

Workplaces with health promotion programs average a 27 percent reduction in sick leave absenteeism, a 26 percent reduction in health care costs, and a 32 percent reduction in workers compensation and disability management claims, studies show.

Of course, this isn’t just about saving business expenses. It’s about improving the health and lives of your employees – your business’ most valuable assets.

Despite Maryland’s high median household income, highly educated workforce, and world-renowned health care, the overall health of our state’s citizens is mediocre, studies show.

The United Health Foundation’s most recent annual Healthiest States report ranks Maryland only 21st. Despite ranking second in the number of primary care doctors, our state’s cardiovascular and cancer death rates rank 31st and 32nd respectively. A major issue for Marylanders is obesity, which has increased by 47 percent in our state since 1999, studies show.

We can all benefit from taking better care of ourselves. Businesses can help by making resources available where we spend most of our days – at work. A link to Healthiest Maryland information is available on the Greater Baltimore Committee website,

More than twenty Maryland companies are already participating. This is clearly a “win-win” business initiative worth looking into.

Donald C. Fry is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. He is a regular contributor to Center Maryland.

Previous Center Maryland columns by Donald C. Fry:

As Baltimore hikes taxes, are state’s counties next?

After the ‘fiber from heaven’ scramble, what’s next?

BRAC growth no longer a future event – it’s happening now

Economic development is a contact sport

Despite the recession, bioscience growth still percolates in Baltimore

State stumbles in enacting new education collective bargaining process

Wind power has potential in Maryland, but solar emerges as early renewable option

It's not good to be clueless in cyberspace

Amid fiscal shuffle, Maryland lawmakers pass measures to spur business growth

Thankfully, Baltimore leads with substance over style in luring Google

Leave damaging transportation provisions out of the budget

Amended budget continues recession-induced fund shifts and stimulus rescue

General Assembly setting stage for combined reporting push in 2011

Wrong timing for proposal to change Baltimore City school board

Baltimore City isn’t alone in facing pension funding challenges

A government investment program that delivers

Proposed transportation fund raid -- a bad habit continues

Where's the outrage over crime?

Small business is where innovation lives
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Donald C. Fry has been the president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC), the central Maryland region's most prominent organization of business and civic leaders, since November 2002.

Under Don’s leadership, the GBC is recognized as a knowledgeable and highly credible business voice in the Baltimore region, Annapolis and Washington, D.C. on policy issues and competitive challenges facing Maryland. Its mission is to apply private-sector leadership to strengthening the business climate and quality of life in the region and state.

Fry served as GBC executive vice president from 1999 to 2002. From 1980 to 1999 Fry was engaged in a private law practice in Harford County. During this time he also served in the Maryland General Assembly. He is one of only a handful of legislators to have served on each of the major budget committees of the General Assembly.

Serving in the Senate of Maryland from 1997 to 1998, Fry was a member of the Budget and Taxation Committee. As a member of the House of Delegates from 1991 to 1997 Fry served on the Ways and Means Committee and on the Appropriations Committee.

Fry is a 1979 graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law. He earned a B.S. in political science from Frostburg State College.