Tag: employee health

Employee Healthcare Costs Are Under Your Control

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:

  1. Make wellbeing an organizational strategy – much like other organizational outcomes.
  2. Communicate a commitment to wellbeing consistently in all of the programs that the company offers.
  3. Hold your direct reports accountable for wellbeing programs available to employees.
  4. Consider how to embed activities to increase wellbeing in individual development plans and goals.
  5. 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!


The HR Experts for Small Business

Employees Love to be Loved

We all know that a big red heart is the symbol of Valentine’s Day, and for this reason February is also American Heart Month.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men AND women, and ultimately, your employees.  Do you care about your employees? Yes, you do.  That’s why February is a great time to show your concern for your employees’ health by generating awareness about the risk of heart disease and also by helping your staff do a “little something about it.” But, why make the effort?

Numerous studies conclude that there is a significant relationship between Organizational Commitment to Employees (OCE) and company performance (eg. Muse, Rutherford, Oswald, and Raymond; Small Business Economics, Vol. 24, No. 2, Mar. 2005).  OCE is defined by an organization’s actions toward and treatment of its employees including caring for their well-being.  Not to get too technical, but briefly there is a positive correlation between return on assets, return on sales, and return on cashflow and OCE.

I recently had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Dr. Martha Grogan of the Mayo Clinic which recently published Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!.  This book promotes an innovative yet very simple plan that could help your employees understand where to focus and how to make it easy for them to succeed in reducing their risk of heart disease by well over 50%.

First a couple of questions (answers below):

  1. Which increases a person’s risk of heart disease more?

a) smoking a pack of cigarettes a day          b) sitting around all day, every day

2. How many hours per week does one need to walk briskly to reduce the risk of heart disease by at least 50%?

a) 1 hour/week          b) 3 hours/week          c) 5 hours/week

Here’s the “little something about it” part.  The Mayo Clinic proposes this simple regimen: “Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8″.  Per day, that’s: eat 5 fruits/vegetables, move for 10 minutes, and sleep 8 hours.  Pretty easy, right.  How can employers reinforce this program?

  1. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit and vegetables near the coffee or common area.
  2. Allow employees an extra 10-minute “walking” break.
  3. Schedule “walk-and-talk” meetings.
  4. Limit in-office e-mail; promote face-to-face discussions.
  5. Obtain a company discount at a local fitness center and/or provide partial membership reimbursement for club fees based on real-time usage.

What makes Mayo Clinic’s program more acceptable is that it doesn’t tell people what NOT to do such as the obvious (no smoking, maintain a healthy weight).  Rather, this program highlights easy steps to better health that even the most sedentary of us can manage.

We at HRInsights strongly believe that employers have a wonderful opportunity to better motivate productivity and loyalty of workers by providing assistance and support for their PHYSICAL as well as FINANCIAL well-being.


1. a & b equally increase the risk of heart disease. 2. a, only 1 hour/week!

Note: 2 hours of active movement per week can reduce the risk by over 75%!


Employee Wellness Programs Becoming Popular

It’s always difficult to invest in employee programs that are geared towards saving money in the long-run.  Especially today, many employers fail to rationalize spending money in order to save money.  Many employee programs are costly and are not able to show an immediate return on investment to the decision-makers.  An increasingly popular employee program is the wellness benefits program.  When an employer looks at these programs, there are some major benefits that can be achieved if used properly.  Absenteeism can decrease, productivity increases while reducing health insurance costs, and, above all, employee health rises.

So, do these programs work?  Are employees actually buying into them?  What if I spend all this money and the employees don’t even use the program?

Well, a study was done recently by an insurance agency of over 2,200 employers and the results may be a little surprising:

-Nearly 70% of the surveyed population have either already moved toward a focus on improving employee health by way of a wellness program or are considering implementing a wellness program.

-For those employers who have already implemented a wellness program, 72% report that they have been successful in improving the overall health of employees.

-Employers cite reduction in absenteeism and a decrease in health care costs as the top reasons for implementing a wellness program.

-55% of respondents expect a reduction in overall health care costs due to their wellness program.

If these results are consistent, why wouldn’t an employer implement an employee wellness program immediately?  There is always the worry of cash, but many programs will provide bulk discounts for company-wide programs.  The benefits far outweigh the detriments in a program like this.  Above all, implementing such programs shows employees that you are willing to spend money on them and that you do care about their well-being as well as the well-being of the company in the long-term sense; they see this as a free employee benefit provided by their employer because the employer cares.  Other benefits are that these programs give employees an opportunity to bond with each other over a common issue and that they are proactively trying to become healthier with just a little nudge in the right direction.

Lastly, per the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, National Employee Benefits Day is April 4th, 2011!