Most of the recent discussion on healthcare reform in the US has focused on its implementation and the impact that it will have on the workplace and particularly that of small businesses. Debate will likely continue to rage on many elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) such as penalties, tax credits and exemptions. However, what remains fact is employers’ ability to reduce healthcare costs and to accelerate important performance outcomes through a deliberate focus on improving employee engagement and well-being. Like many of you, when I hear “Employee Engagement”, my eyes glaze over and I get really sleepy. But, the facts are consistent and clear:
Happy Workers = Lower Healthcare-Related Costs = More Profits
According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, 1) engaged workers lead healthier lives, 2) employees with high wellbeing have lower healthcare costs, and 3) engaged and healthy employees are more resilient and agile. What this means for the employer: 1) less sick days, 2) improved on-the-job performance, and, 3) lower overall medical costs. The Gallup report states, “Although some supervisors might expect employees to compartmentalize their work lives and their personal lives, great managers know that the whole person comes to work and that each employee’s wellbeing influences individual and organizational performance.” The authors go on to suggest an approach to improving the workplace environment behind these 5 actions:
- Make wellbeing an organizational strategy – much like other organizational outcomes.
- Communicate a commitment to wellbeing consistently in all of the programs that the company offers.
- Hold your direct reports accountable for wellbeing programs available to employees.
- Consider how to embed activities to increase wellbeing in individual development plans and goals.
- Set positive defaults for making healthy choices.
While they often deflect this advice as consul only for larger organizations, small business owners can define equally practical initiatives under each of the above 5 actions that can be implemented easily on a much smaller scale. Don’t avoid the reality!