It’s not enough to just offer great benefits and wellness initiatives -- truly great companies take this a big step further by offering health education that’s focused on awareness, engagement, understanding, skill development, and lifestyle behavior change.
What if …
- All your employees took full advantage of all their health and financial benefits?
- Everyone showed up and was present and productive...
- You could attract, retain, and engage all the talent you need?
- You had more qualified applicants than your competition for your open positions?
- You could keep your star performers and employees with critical skills from walking out the door?
- You could migrate people to high-deductible health plans with no grumbling?
- You could facilitate meaningful improvements in employee health —reducing claims and absenteeism, and improving productivity?
Here are 5 major benefits of being proactive with your employees when it comes to their health education:
1. Awareness = Prevention
By educating employees about health, you raise their awareness of common health risks. When your messaging hits close to home and makes your employees think, “Hey, this means me!” -- they’ll be more likely to participate in activities to proactively reduce those risks. Once you pique their interest, employees are also likely to further their own education, making better decisions for themselves and their families.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the benefits of health education include “encouraging employee trust and participation” in wellness initiatives and health benefits, and helping to “normalize and sustain” the behaviors that will improve employee health.
Not sure of the best way to get your message across? The AHA Workplace Health Playbook recommends gathering employee input on the best channels for communication.
TIP: If you’re busy with other initiatives, see if one of your vendors might consider providing a tailored lunch or breakfast meeting.
2. Employees will be more proactive & engaged when it comes to their chronic conditions.
Image by Adrian Clark on Flickr
According to the CDC, about half of all adults in the United States -- 117 million people -- have one or more chronic health conditions, from heart disease to obesity. Yet, many employees don’t see their primary care providers often enough. As a result, they don’t have the tools to monitor changes in their chronic conditions or learn the latest info on how to care for themselves most effectively.
A recent study published in Health Service Journal found that “lack of care for those with chronic conditions can lead to eventual increased medications and treatment, excess costs due to decreased productivity, and poor quality of life.” On the flip side, a recent United Healthcare Study found that eye care providers educating their patients has a significant increase on employees engaging with their health.
Through education, employees can be familiarized not only with the importance of regular primary care visits, but with the process for booking those appointments -- eliminating any barriers to care. Whether your company is self-insured or fully-insured, premiums and claims are certain to improve over time if employees manage their chronic conditions.
3. Simplification improves understanding.
The healthcare system in general is … in a word: complex. Yet, health literacy has a direct relationship to health outcomes. By improving the readability of your member materials, including websites, Explanations of Benefits (EOBs), emails, and mailers, your employees won’t spend unnecessary time trying to decipher their plans -- or worse, just give up and miss out on important benefits and options.
For example, 2020 On-site provides custom EOB and email campaigns for all of our clients so that employees don’t get bogged down in the countless choices for lens customizations.
4. The Bottom (Dollar) Line
Whether it’s vision, dental, or medical, employees don’t always have all of the information they need to make an educated decision about which option suits their needs best. By helping employees with financial literacy around their insurance options, you can encourage proper coverage. With the right coverage, you won’t overpay and your employees won’t be under-insured.
At the end of the day, more informed employees will mean your company will be better able to gauge risk and ensure insurance costs are optimized.
5. You’ll show your team that you care.
Educating employees about their health is a clear plus for any employer in the eyes of their team. Building trust is key for engagement and alignment, resulting in increased productivity because not only is everyone rowing in the same direction, they know they’re on a safe vessel with a captain who cares. And we all know that showing you care is critical to recruiting and retaining the best people available.
To make all this work, education needs to happen throughout the organization. To help you get started -- or improve your current plan -- there are lots of great tools like that AHA Workplace Health Playbook and the Choosing Wisely Employer Toolkit created by The National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, in partnership with the Pacific Business Group on Health and Consumer Reports. Employee health education is an investment that will always pay.
“A successful business is based on more than financial reports. It’s about the people,” says Nancy Brown, CEO of AHA. “If leadership creates an environment where health is a priority … it’s a winning formula for everyone.”
*Benefits of investing in employee health education, as outlined in the ROI of Benefits Communications White Paper published by Benz COmmunications -- and we couldn’t agree more.