This is a good time for organizations and employees to do a little fall cleaning and run through a healthcare checklist to make sure they are aware of the most current HSA/FSA benefit information. Continue reading
Getting geared up for open enrollment? Organizations everywhere are reviewing benefit offerings and preparing their process for this annual fall ritual. Employers are seeking to balance their healthcare spend with providing the support their diverse workforce needs.
A key strategy that remains popular with organizations is offering consumer directed health plans (CDHP). These plans are often paired with a health savings account or a flexible spending account. The percentage of employees enrolling in HDHPs has been increasing steadily over the past five years. Driving the trend, is the savings employees see with the average monthly paycheck deduction for individual-only coverage in a HDHP at about $90, compared to $140 for a PPO plan.
Many companies today implement wellness programs to help create a healthy culture at work. To establish an environment that promotes its workforce’s wellbeing on many levels. It’s an important goal for organizations to strive for beyond just healthcare cost containment.
Yes, poor health takes approximately $576 billion annually out of the U.S. economy, according to Integrated Benefits Institute data. With 39 percent of that being attributed to lost productivity due to absenteeism and presenteeism. While absences due to illness are more easily trackable, it’s presenteeism that can have a bigger impact on a company’s bottomline.
What is Presenteeism?
The term presenteeism is a concept that companies need to effectively manage. It’s the state of showing up for work, but not performing to full capacity.
The reasons might be due to stress, boredom, relationship issues, and also not feeling well. While survey data from a 2016 Global Corporate Challenge found that on average employees only took four sick days a year, they also reported being unproductive on the job an average of 57 days annually. That’s costing employers 11 weeks per worker of “missed” work.
Prevent Presenteeism; Create a Culture of Wellness
That’s why an organization’s commitment to wellness at work can have a positive impact for employees and employers. Wellness initiatives aimed at boosting a staff’s health and by extension morale and job satisfaction can range in cost, giving employers the ability to budget and implement initiatives as they see fit.
There are several initiatives that businesses can consider as outlined in the top workplace-wellness trends by the Corporate Health & Wellness Association:
- Lifestyle Management – Provide flu shots, sleep-management programs, cholesterol screenings, and telehealth visits to help make getting and staying healthy easy.
- Weight-loss Programs – Offer a range of solutions if possible, from gym memberships to yoga classes, and weight loss memberships to healthy snacks in the lunchroom.
- Redesign Workspaces – Provide adjustable sit-stand desks or treadmill desks, ergonomic chairs and headsets, and Fitbit trackers to encourage movement throughout the day.
- Smoking-cessation Programs – Ban smoking in the office and offer smoking-cessation classes to help employees kick the habit permanently.
- Stress Management Programs – Offer guidance and instruction in activities like meditation, personal finance, elder care, and parenting.
Source: Business West. Move Along. May 2017. PP32-35.
Learn More: Top Wellness Priorities in 2017 [Infographic]
Telehealth services remain one of the hottest new benefits being offered by employers. It provides a fast and convenient way for employees to seek non-emergency care. Virtual care offers a method of delivering healthcare services that allow employees to save time and money. Continue reading
Companies that understand the importance of investing in employees, as genuine resources are moving toward a more whole-person care approach to meet their diverse needs. Workplaces can no longer be viewed as silos, separate from all other aspects of employees’ lives. Keeping employees positively connected to their families, communities and coworkers provides a holistic method to delivering workplace benefits.
Taking a Wellness Program Beyond Health
Wellness programs are often used to bridge gaps in health coverage and more often than not simply equated with physical wellbeing. However, employee stress levels are reaching new highs and wellness programs need to expand and address these additional stressors in employees’ lives. Wellness programs components today, need to be comprised of physical, financial, emotional and social strategies to be effective.
The Social Component of a Wellness Program
The social component is probably the least talked about aspect of a wellness program. However, it probably shouldn’t be considering its impact. For example, an employee is responsible for an elderly parent that is ill. The employee’s time outside the workplace is consumed by caring for the elderly parent, leaving little time for any social interaction among friends or for group activities.
Additionally, employer surveys nationwide indicate that companies recognize that caregiving responsibilities negatively impact employee productivity too. So now at work, the less productive employee may not feel as connected to his or her team and/or organization. That’s a lot of stress and negativity for an employee to deal with both inside and outside the workplace.
Creating an Environment Conducive to Employee Social Wellness
So what can employers do to foster an environment that promotes social wellness?
First, recognize its importance and impact on an employee’s life. Many more employees are going to being dealing with caregiving situations as the U.S. population older than 85 has doubled in the past two decades and as more women (who are traditional sources of caregiving) now comprise 47% of the workforce, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor 2016 statistics.
Opportunities to Improve Social Wellbeing in the Workplace
The positive impact that healthy relationships both in and outside the workplace bring to an organization need to be incorporated into corporate wellness initiatives. A recent Employee Benefit Plan Review article offered several insights for organizations to discuss to positively grow this aspect of their wellness program offerings.
- Consider celebrating milestone markers of company anniversaries and bringing employees together for birthdays.
- Make time for larger team and department meetings to share achievements and challenges, as well as reconnect employees to the vision, core values and mission statement of the organization.
- Provide an employee social network, where employees can ask questions and ask for help from other employees.
- Promote all aspects of diversity to create a culture of social acceptance and an opportunity for all opinions to be heard and valued.
- Look to foster relationships between the organization and the community. Broaden the scope of social connectedness to outside the workplace and involve employees and their family members and everyone will benefit.
Source: Employee Benefit Plan Review. Wellness Programs – Social Wellness. May 2017. PP5-6.
It’s been a tumultuous few years for the healthcare benefits community, and as the Trump administration takes office, the changes are just beginning. To address this, the Healthcare Trends Institute recently completed a survey of benefits professionals from across the United States to learn more about the trends, preparations and expectations for the coming year.
Trends in Healthcare Benefits: 2017 Healthcare Benefits Benchmark Study
The 2017 Healthcare Benefits Benchmark Study was completed by over 250 human resources executives, benefit specialists and other benefit decision makers from organizations ranging in employee size from less than 50 to over 2,500. Below, we will share some of the key insights and what they mean for employer groups in 2017.
Among the notable considerations for employers heading into 2017:
Employers Buying into Healthcare Consumerism
Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, employers have been encouraging their employees to take more control of their own healthcare decisions by offering a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).
The Move to HDHP
High deductible health plans are plans that have minimum deductibles of $1,300 for individuals and $2,600 for families. One of the main selling points of an HDHP is that it combats rapid increases to monthly premiums for employers and employees, as shown by the relatively flat Medical Cost Trend over the past 4 years. The increasing popularity of these plans grew as a result of rising healthcare costs and the passing of the ACA, and pose benefits for both employers and employees:
- For employees, high deductible health plans were designed to help them to lower premiums, focus on preventive care, shop around for affordable care, use emergency rooms only for emergencies, and ultimately take more control of their healthcare decisions.
- For employers, HDHPs helped to combat rising premiums while shielding them from the Cadillac Tax, which was initially set to begin in 2018.
With all of this in mind, 2016 marked a milestone for healthcare consumerism, with the amount of organizations offering HDHPs jumping from 28% four years ago to 39% in last year’s survey to 53% in this year’s survey.
Pairing HDHP with Consumer-Oriented Accounts (HSA, HRA, FSA)
With this rise in HDHPs came an increase in the number of employees being enrolled in a Health Savings Account, Healthcare Reimbursement Arrangement, or Flexible Spending Account, as this year’s survey found that 51.5% of respondents’ employees are enrolled in one or more of these plans/arrangements.
By offering one or more of these arrangements, employers are demonstrating that they are committed to helping employees afford out-of-pocket healthcare expenses if and when they arise, making people-first decisions rather than money-first ones.
Notably, however, the move to HDHP does require effective communication, as there is a great deal of misunderstanding among consumers about why these plans help them and how they can use them effectively. Learn more about common misunderstandings in 5 Benefits Problems Employees Face and how to address concerns in How to Talk About Healthcare Consumerism with Your Employees.
Focusing on the Advantages
Organizations are relying heavily on their benefits programs to recruit, retain, and engage employees. Even if many employers have moved away from the traditional forms of healthcare benefits that were prevalent in the industry decades ago, the benefits offerings of today still can represent a significant investment in happier, healthier, and more engaged employees. Additionally, a well-defined benefits strategy can play a major role in improving company reputation as a leader and one that cares about its employees. In BenefitsPro’s Analysis of our whitepaper:
Respondents were asked to rank on a scale of 1 to 10 how strongly they agree with the statement “the quality of a benefits package impacts the reputation of my company,” with 10 being “strongly agree.” Not surprisingly, given that such packages are looked upon as recruiting tools, 67 percent put the statement at 7 or higher, with nearly a quarter choosing “strongly agree.”
Learn More: Download the Entire 2017 Healthcare Benefits Trends Benchmark Study
The entire 2017 Healthcare Benefits Trends whitepaper takes a much deeper look into the trends to look out for in 2017, including plans and insights from other employer groups. The national survey went to over 250 human resources executives, benefit specialists and other benefit decision makers from organizations ranging in employee size from less than 50 to over 2,500. Click Here to Download.