Ford workers build Focus models at the Michigan Assembly Plant. Image: Ford Motor CompanyEnlarge Photo
When we think about the cost of making cars, we think about things like research, design, raw materials, parts, and labor. But there are many other factors that affect the price of our vehicles, and one of those things is healthcare.
Yesterday, Ford released a statement about its new initiatives "to build and maintain a sustainable hourly workforce". That sounds great for Ford employees -- and according to Auto News, it could bring down the price of your next ride.
A SUSTAINABLE WORKFORCE
Ford's announcement came by way of Jim Tetreault, the company's vice president for manufacturing in North America. Tetreault said that "Through our Sustainable Workforce initiative, we’re taking a new, holistic approach to fostering growth and well-being amongst our workers, and making sure Ford is a great place to build a career over the long-term.”
This "Sustainable Workforce" initiative is really a four-pronged approach to hiring, training, and monitoring Ford employees:
That seems swell for employees, but these aren't mere feel-good initiatives. Ford hopes they'll have a positive impact on the company's bottom line, too.
Ford hasn't assigned a dollar figure to the savings that the "Sustainable Workforce" program might bring, but Tetreault noted that employees with chronic healthcare problems can cost the company ten times as much as healthy employees. And those with some of the most common chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, and hypertension make up roughly 60 percent of all healthcare costs.
The cost-savings Ford is likely to see, though, probably won't come from reductions in healthcare spending. As numerous studies have shown, increasing access to preventive care doesn't do much to cut the cost of health plans.
Where Ford is likely to benefit, however, is in the productivity and longevity of its workforce. If employees remain healthy for longer, that means that they'll work more and need to be replaced less often, which in turn means that Ford will spend less on training new workers -- and that's where the savings could add up.
That may not bring down the cost of your next vehicle, but it could help Ford keep prices below competitors. That could be reason enough for you to give Ford a second look next time you're cruising the showrooms.