So many facets of our cultural, societal landscape have been radically and irrevocably changed in the past few years thanks to COVID. This includes the way employees and employers approach employee health and well-being.
The changing needs and increased interest of employees for better health and well-being has changed how employers think about healthcare benefits — which in turn has shifted goalposts on how to best support employees' health.
Today, prioritizing preventive care in employee benefits is essential for improving overall health and well-being, reducing healthcare costs, and enhancing productivity in the workplace. By implementing certain strategies, organizations can create a culture of health and well-being and encourage employees to establish preventive care habits, ultimately fostering sustained well-being.
One Medical recently published a white paper, checking the pulse on employee health and health benefits — and there are some interesting takeaways that can affect how you approach your own employee health programs and benefit packages.
How remote work has changed employee benefit structure
Some quick takes, by the numbers:
- Nearly six in 10 employers (57%) say their benefits strategy has been in constant flux for the past two years.
- The growth in remote work has been a key driver of these changes, pushing three in four employers (75%) to rethink their strategy in recent years.
- The pandemic also sparked broader recognition of the need to address anxiety, stress and other elements related to general well-being. Nearly all employers (95%) now agree that it has become increasingly important to include support for their employees’ mental health in their benefits programs.
What does preventive care (as an employee benefit) actually look like?
Prioritization of access to primary care — plus the incentivization of its use — can help to enhance employee health and well-being . Remote work and changing employee needs have made this a critical focus area; investing in effective primary care could lead to better health outcomes and cost savings in the long run.
Some examples of preventive care for employees in and out of the office…
- Access to routine vaccinations (like the flu shot, for example) and reminders to proactively schedule these appointments.
- Access to both in-person and virtual telehealth services, and the ability to easily book appointments near employees’ homes — which now extend well beyond employer headquarters. Virtual primary care becomes crucial for remote employees, and incentivizing its use ensures equitable access.
- One Medical's annual check-up "Live Well” visit to take a comprehensive, preventive look at an individual’s health.
- Routine cancer screenings, with communication and reminders from the employer.
- Mental health services, as part of the primary care offering, are vital for addressing workplace stress and preventing burnout and more serious mental health struggles.
Strategies for incentivizing workplace wellness
Offering these benefits is one part of the battle — getting your employees to use said benefits is another thing entirely, but it’s essential to keep your staff healthy and thriving. So how do you ensure they’re taking advantage of what you’re offering?
Communicate and educate
Clearly communicate the value of preventive care and educate employees about its benefits. Send regular, automated reminders for appointments, vaccinations, and screenings, and consider a monthly wellness-centered newsletter in which you help your staff stay on top of seasonal health objectives through the year. And remember: communication goes both ways. Ask for feedback and improvement ideas via employee feedback to enhance your programs.
Make it accessible and convenient
The tougher it is to secure an appointment or get to the doctor’s office, the less likely an individual is to visit the doctor. Ensure easy access, including virtual care options, convenient scheduling, and locations. If you do happen to have in-office employees, host workplace health screenings and flu shot clinics.
Lead by example
Don’t wait for employees to explore these benefits on their own; ensure senior leadership is involved in preventive care initiatives themselves, setting a precedent for employees down the line to follow suit.
How your organization benefits from these strategies
Why go through all this effort? It ultimately benefits your business — and contributes to a healthier, happier world.
- Employee health and well-being: Primary care supports employee health and prevents more serious issues, contributing to overall well-being.
- Cost Savings: Early intervention through primary care reduces healthcare expenses, benefiting both employees and employers.
- Productivity: Healthy employees are more productive and miss fewer workdays, boosting workplace efficiency.
- Retention: Quality healthcare benefits, including accessible primary care, aid in retaining valuable talent.
- Healthcare Equity: Prioritizing primary care promotes healthcare equity, irrespective of employees' backgrounds or locations.
- Long-Term Engagement: Incentives encourage employees to establish preventive care habits, fostering sustained wellness.