When you’re looking at what elements are most important to the success of your business, your employees should be right at the top. They’re more than just the people who keep the day-to-day running of operations ticking over. Their commitment and talent can see them innovating on behalf of your enterprise and being instrumental to both your success and your longevity.
As such, you must prioritize the well-being of your workers. This begins with a commitment to their ongoing health. By implementing protocols and practices that put worker wellness first, you minimize absenteeism and demonstrate your care for them in ways that tend to breed loyalty. It can also be instrumental in improving the retention of workers.
However, it’s not always easy to know how best to advocate for and prioritize employee health. Particularly for small businesses with limited resources, it can be a complex matter. So we’re going to look at a few of the areas you can focus on to make employee wellness front and center.
Be Clear About Benefits
If you don’t have a health benefits plan, you seriously run the risk of losing workers to your competition that does. After all, we live in a society in which some 19% of the current population would be unable to pay for healthcare straight away, and an unexpected illness could leave employees with crippling debt.
As a small business owner, you need to find health insurance that you and your employees can count on. Blue Cross Blue Shield offers our chamber members options for all business sizes.
However, it’s not just important to have a program in place that can help handle illnesses. You also need to make sure the details of the plan are communicated clearly to workers.
This is often one of the hurdles employees face in their path to wellness. If they don’t fully understand what the package you’re providing them with covers, they may hesitate to get the treatment that can make a difference to their quality of life. As such, you need to make the details of aspects like Medicare and the extent to which prescriptions are covered available in an accessible form. Provide documents that explicitly outline which plan employees signed up to, alongside the types of drugs that are likely to be covered, and any out-of-pocket expenses they may be subject to. Don’t just provide this information in a hard format; put it on the cloud or company intranet so that it may be accessed wherever workers happen to be.
It is also vital that your human resources (HR) personnel make healthcare benefits part of the ongoing discussion throughout a worker’s time with the company. If necessary, provide them with access to seminars and courses on the full range of Social Security disability benefits.
Make discussing benefits part of the onboarding procedure. During yearly evaluations, highlight the potential for providing additional benefits due to the length of time served.
Develop a Wellness Program
If you’re serious about prioritizing employee health, then it is smart to design a wellness program. Some business leaders get confused here, thinking that it is similar to healthcare benefits. In fact, it’s very different.
While a benefits package is aimed at ensuring employees can get treatment for illnesses, a wellness plan helps to make sure that your workers maintain a level of health that improves their everyday lives. This is applied through education, recommended practices, and sometimes incentives.
You may have visiting experts come into the office to talk about mental health issues, a nutritional plan to aid in weight loss goals, perhaps access to daily morning guided meditation. This approach has been popular in corporate spaces for some time now, and studies have shown that there are varying levels of improvement as a result of wellness programs.
What makes a system successful can come down to the employee’s motivation to participate, the quality of resources available in the program, and even whether you as a leader are fully supporting it.
The good thing about a wellness program is that it can be tailored to your business and even location.
Take time to understand what your employees most need and how you can be positively involved. Reach out to potential partners in the local area — local gyms, healthy food delivery services — to see if you can get reduced rates for your employees. Have discussions with local telehealth counseling services about the potential for you to subsidize access. Develop incentives to hit health goals that help to motivate your workers, other than simply improved health.
Maintain an Open Dialogue
One of the most effective ways to advocate for employee health is also one of the most overlooked. You need to keep talking to them about their wellness. Too often there is a sense that leadership and HR can’t be easily approached to discuss health concerns — either because they don’t think you can help or because of fear that it might affect their career progression.
You should therefore implement protocols that make it clear that your business is pro-health discussions.
Keep conversations about mental health stigma at the forefront of your organization, and make official commitments to maintain an accessible and unbiased workplace. Invite employees not just to talk about their own challenges but also to keep you accountable for areas they feel you’ve failed on. This approach should include those working from home.
Be open too about the risks that may be inherent in your specific workplace. For instance, some issues like varicose veins can be affected by genetics, weight, and other conditions, but some professional activities can raise the risk. Office workers, teachers, even flight attendants all perform tasks in ways that can see their circulation negatively affected, potentially resulting in varicose veins and other conditions.
Research the ailments that are common in your industry, talk to workers about the causes, and make everybody part of the positive solutions through discussing them.
Maintaining a high degree of employee health is vital for the success of your business, and must be a priority. You can demonstrate this through clarity on benefits, and implementing a structured program for wellness. Above all else, keep the lines of communication open with workers so that you can work together in boosting health in a mutually beneficial way.
By: Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer interested in better living through technology and education. She loves traveling to beautiful places and is frequently lost in a good book.
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