As prices on group health insurance plans continue to rise, small and mid-sized businesses are looking for ways to cut corners on costs. If you keep in mind that premiums are at least partly based on how much money health insurance companies must shell out each year toward health care, it’s easy to see that lowering health care spending will benefit everyone.
As an employer providing group health insurance, you have the ability to encourage employees to take preventive measures for their own well-being. Not only will healthier workers translate into fewer sick days for everyone; you can also help to control health insurance premiums. It’s not that instituting these measures will help you achieve instantly lower premiums, but they will help to mitigate the rising cost of health care for everyone.
You don’t necessarily need to spend big bucks instituting a company wellness program. Incorporate the following measures into your policies, and you can help your workers while also protecting your own bottom line.
Encourage exercise. Regular exercise is one of the most reliable predictors of future health. Encourage your employees to get fit by:
- sponsoring a company sports team (softball, volleyball, basketball, etc)
- sponsoring a team for a charitable walk or run, and creating a training schedule for employees who sign up
- offering some sort of reward or bonus for employees who participate in one of these programs
- rearranging work hours to accommodate a fitness schedule. Many workers might want to exercise anyway, so offering them a longer afternoon break if they spend 30 minutes on a walking track or exercise machine is a good trade-off for everyone.
Encourage responsible nutritional choices. Aside from regular exercise, a healthy diet is another main cornerstone of good health.
- make sure your employees have access to a fridge and microwave so that they can bring healthy lunches to work
- ensure that employees have access to fresh, clean drinking water
- if you have a company break room or cafeteria, consider various vendor options to include health food choices
- sponsor an annual company-wide weight loss challenge, with rewards for the winners.
Lower workplace stress. Chronic stress takes it toll on the body, and over time can contribute to the development of major health problems. Take these steps to lower stress in the workplace:
- provide employees with information on mental health, through brochures or special presentations
- offer seminars on conflict resolution, managing priorities, and so on
- institute an open-door policy, in which employees feel comfortable coming to you with workplace concerns.
- institute flexible scheduling, allowing parents to work from home when they or their children are sick, if possible
- offer childcare or after-school programs on site, or allow for flex time so that parents can juggle their family responsibilities
- provide a suggestion box for employees to submit their ideas on workplace efficiency. Sometimes just knowing that we have a voice can help to lower stress.
You might not be able to institute all of these policies. Just remember that each step you do take contributes to the well-being of your employees, increases job satisfaction, and can help to control health care expenses for everyone.