How wellness and advocacy keep employees focused on their jobs
It’s not “new news” to hear the staggering statistics on the time employees spend on personal matters at work. Estimates range from 45 minutes per day, up to 3 hours. In dollars and cents, we’re talking about millions in lost pay each year. So what are employees doing with their time, and how can you help them… help themselves?
How healthcare & insurance complicate life
Think about the number of complexities we’ve introduced to employees over the past 15 years. Co-pays and co-insurance came first. Then high deductible plans, HSAs, HRAs. Let’s not forget COBRA, FSAs, HIPAA. Then add in a healthy serving of PHI and an SOB (that’s a Statement of Benefits!) Finally, top it all off with the crème de la crème – healthcare reform.
Voila! We’ve created a system of healthcare (and access to care) that’s about as easy to understand as quantum physics. As human resource executives, you have a leg up. You understand the complexities and you’ve got access to information employees don’t have. Or do you? I’d venture to say that even the most well-schooled among us have our own challenges weeding through healthcare and benefits issues. So, we have to empathize with the average Joe. Have we failed to make available resources to help employees navigate this complex territory? After all, good health is the most fundamental and pivotal factor in productivity. So we all stand to gain by keeping employees healthy and happy.
Why good health can be hard to come by
Even with the best intentions, taking good care of yourself and your family isn’t always easy. There are a number of things that get in the way. The most important factor that keeps many of us from peak health status is time. Quite simply, there’s not enough of it. And when you’re taking care of yourself and a family, and dealing with a down economy, making time for good health comes at a premium. Many of our employees are taking care of parents and in-laws, and if they too have health issues, that’s incredibly time consuming to manage.
Would you venture a guess at how much work time is used to handle health or benefit issues? In an average day, a cross-section of your employee population is trying to handle these problems. And they are doing it on work time – because time is at a premium.
Huddled in their cubicles, or in their cars in the parking lot, you can hear the quiet clamor, each employee with a different story: “Why was this claim denied? I owe you what? Asthma? How will I find the right specialist in-network? Mom’s moved in… I need to find all new doctors to treat her diabetes close to our home.” How incredibly stressful for employees who want to do their job well, and balance work with family! Can you say, “PRESENTEEISM?”
How HR can help
When you stop to think about it, there’s a huge gap to be filled. Your staff is at capacity. But if you’re like me, you’re serious about taking good care of your employees. And that means, even though you’ve got a line out your door, you won’t install a “Take a Number” dispenser.
High performing companies have HR leaders who are thinking about the future. They are delivering CEOs strategies for keeping employees focused. Many are enrolling the help of care management and advocacy services to get employees back in the game. These companies work on behalf of your employees and are typically paid on a per employee per month basis. Care management firms put a third party partnership in place, so there’s no issue with HR staff and PHI. An added advantage is that it’s all confidential, and employees feel comfortable knowing that. They extend your resources in their areas of expertise, so you can focus on reaching your strategic goals.
They provide both benefits expertise, as well as clinical resources like health coaches, nurses and dieticians. These partnerships can help design your population health strategy and incentive structure, set up health screenings and follow-up plans, help research claims issues, clarify benefits, help an employee understand a recent diagnosis and even coordinate care for elderly parents.
The idea is to get employees healthy, give them resources to help them reach their personal goals, and take down the barriers that are keeping them from being able to be fully engaged and productive.
As you look ahead to 2013, you’ll implement key strategies to impact your employees’ productivity and your companies’ profitability. Consider affordable alternatives to adding staff – - while saving time, and actually improving employee health.
Be sure to Doug’s session, Be the Best – Learnings for HR Leaders to Create a Best Places to Work Company, at the 22nd Annual SHRM-Atlanta HR Conference at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, March 13-14th, 2012.
Douglas Layman is the Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Gilsbar, Inc., one of the country’s largest and fastest growing privately-held health and benefit management organizations. He is responsible for Gilsbar’s corporate direction, vision and sales strategy for its three divisions: Health & Benefit Management, MedCom Care Management and Care Advocates.
Mr. Layman shares his expertise in human resources leadership, creating a culture of health, and population health management at conferences across the country. He was recently interviewed by SHRM Online and National Public Radio (NPR), authored an article in Human Resource Executive magazine titled “More HR Reach and Employee Focus”, and co-authored a recent article in CDHC Solutions magazine titled “Engaging Employees Vital to Health Care Strategy.” His speaking resume includes events such as world Health Care Congress, Society of Human Resources Management, the International Institute of Research, and the National Business Group on Health. Mr. Layman currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Association of Health Plans. He earned his degree at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama.