The health of an employer’s workforce and the success of a business go hand-in-hand. Regardless of whether a business offers subsidized health insurance, the specter of healthcare-related disruptions looms large. The impact of acute and chronic illnesses among employees can ripple through an organization, affecting productivity, morale and ultimately the bottom line. This leaves executives asking what the best strategies are to effectively manage these health-related challenges and their associated expenses.
Below, 18 Forbes Business Council members share innovative strategies that businesses can employ—whether it’s related to health insurance or other creative solutions—to safeguard employee well-being and navigate the complex landscape of health care.
1. Foster A Welcoming And Supportive Environment
Unfortunately, many leaders don’t take mental and physical health seriously enough. Besides health insurance benefits, leaders need to be supportive when family and employee health issues arise. Creating a welcoming and supportive environment goes a long way in creating a company culture that is more important than just the bottom line. An added benefit is creating loyalty for years to come. – Peter Ross, Senior Helpers
2. Have Empathy
Have empathy for the various conditions employees have. Offering them extra time off when they are feeling a bit down or to just pick them up keeps everyone healthier in the long run. Also, I have often provided a few extra paid bonus days in a hotel and meals after a business trip concludes, especially if the destination is one they are very interested in, and it really energizes employees – Audrey Arbeeny, Audiobrain
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3. Utilize A PEO To Outsource Benefits
The business can utilize a professional employer organization (PEO) to outsource all employee benefits including health care. The PEO has greater buying power in the marketplace and the business can pass on efficiencies and costs while also offering a broader range of healthcare plans. – Daniel Astin, Ciardi Ciardi & Astin
4. Stay Up To Date On Health Care Innovations
The options for keeping employees healthy today go way beyond hospitals and medications. Thousands of new digital health innovations are proven to lower costs, from virtual care for skin conditions to chronic condition-specific platforms (i.e., asthma, diabetes, etc.) and so much more. Look at your population-level condition prevalence and then line up the latest digital health innovations solving for them. – Cameron Jacox, Rocket Digital Health
5. Implement Employee Wellness Programs
Implementing proactive employee wellness programs can focus on promoting healthy lifestyles, preventive care and overall well-being. Encourage employees to adopt healthier habits by providing access to fitness classes, mental health support and nutrition counseling. Prioritizing employee health and well-being not only benefits individuals, but also creates a more resilient workforce. – Jo Stephens, Law Firm Sites, Inc.
6. Invest In Comprehensive Wellness Benefits And Coverage
Wellness benefits are the cornerstone of employee success. Offering the minimum is an idea of the past. To have the most robust workforce, medical benefits should be comprehensive. Disability coverage should cover incomes to 60% or more, and mental health benefits are a must these days. If you don’t invest in protecting your employees, the downside loss will certainly outweigh the outlay to protect. – Robert Depalo, National Financial Network
7. Provide Leave For Difficult Situations
In any difficult situation, the most crucial aspect for a person is taking the time they need to figure out their next steps. For companies, it is of utmost importance to introduce a variety of leaves that go beyond the status quo and encompass potential situations that may arise. A notable example is providing leave for women who have experienced miscarriages. – Denys Grabchak, Performetry
8. Provide Dependent Care FSAs
Businesses should provide dependent care flexible savings accounts (FSAs) to employees. They’re free for employers to provide and allow employees to use pre-tax dollars for childcare. It’s a win-win benefit that supports working parents, families and the professional teams they contribute to, resulting in boosted productivity and employee retention as well as better business outcomes. – Sarah Kellogg Neff, The Lactation Network
9. Encourage Preventative Health Initiatives
Businesses can manage health-related issues by fostering a wellness culture. Encourage preventive health measures like regular exercise, healthy eating and stress management through activities like wellness challenges or providing access to wellness apps. Supporting employees’ overall well-being can reduce health-related disruptions and costs. – Andrei Neacsu, HyperSense Software Inc.
10. Implement Flexible Work Arrangements
Consider implementing flexible work arrangements such as remote work or flexible hours to accommodate employees with health-related needs. This approach recognizes that health and well-being are individualized and can vary greatly among employees. Offer flexibility and support to employees managing their health, thereby reducing potential disruptions and associated expenses and maintaining productivity. – Pedro Barboglio, Remote Team Solutions
11. Utilize Clear Communication And Coverage
Clear communication is essential—from making sure your employees know that they should take sick time to recover to knowing what tasks are in progress if someone is suddenly unavailable. This is quickly followed by making sure that your workforce is elastic enough to absorb work if someone is out for an extended period. – Nell Callahan, Frontwood Strategies
12. Build A Culture That Nurtures Wellness
Addressing health care isn’t just about slapping on a subsidized insurance plan; it’s an art form. Build a culture that actually nurtures wellness. Encourage active lifestyles, provide flex hours for mental health, offer free flu shots or bring in nutritionists for workshops. Think proactively and not reactively to cultivate health, and don’t just throw money at illness. It’s about being savvy, not stingy. – Chris Kille, Payment Pilot
13. Provide Check-Ups And Educational Initiatives
Businesses can adopt comprehensive health programs with preventive care, regular check-ups and educational initiatives. Encouraging healthy lifestyles, offering wellness resources and organizing workshops can cut down on acute and chronic illnesses. Doing this leads to a healthier, more productive workforce, lessening the disruptive impact of health-related issues and expenses. – Pavel Stepanov, Virtudesk
14. Provide Employees With Updated Information
One of the most helpful things businesses can do regarding health-related issues and expenses is to provide employees with up-to-date information, including information on tax-free accounts for health expenses. It shows the company is focusing on what’s important to staff. Also, have a clear and transparent policy around time off that is easily accessible to everyone in the company. – Jeaneane Falkler, Room 8 Studios
15. Reduce Employee Concerns
Create a culture that reduces the employees’ concern about being able to take care of themselves and their families. For example, if they get stressed every time Johnny goes to the doctor, that is not good. Having a life in which the two worlds of work and home play well with each other is a benefit to all. It cuts down on work-related expenses and absences and keeps employees happier since they can prioritize what is important to them. – Joe Crandall, Greencastle Associates Consulting
16. Add Wellness Benefits For The Entire Self
At our company, we offer a wellness benefit to all of our employees in addition to health insurance, PTO and a 401(k). The wellness benefit must be used on one’s self and can go towards a workout class, gym membership, massage or anything else that brings wellness to our team’s lives. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to be proactive about our team’s health. – Maurice Harary, The Bid Lab
17. Provide Contractors With Health Benefits
We provide all of our contractors and subcontractors with access to all of our health and fitness strategic partners and clients. We learned long ago that the healthier the people that we work with are, the less time they miss and the more productive they are in their work. The same goes for all of us! – ‘Smitty’ Robert J. Smith, Robert J. Smith Productions
18. Create A Good Offensive Strategy
As in nearly every aspect of business, the best defense is a good offense. Leaders should empower and support their management and key players in pursuing their own wellness through exercise and other healthy habits, and then align the company’s values with those same traits. The remaining employees will soon follow suit. – Matthew Davis, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc.