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How can preventative benefits boost employee wellness?

Employers are increasingly focusing on bolstering employee health and wellbeing; this is not a surprise, especially when considering its far-reaching benefits for staff engagement and productivity. While group medical insurance remains a central part of employee benefits packages, the pendulum is swinging towards employee wellness with a strong emphasis on preventative benefits. Today’s Pacific Prime article explores how employers can embrace a preventative, proactive approach to employee wellness.

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What are preventative employee benefits?

Preventative benefits refer to care or wellness benefits offered to staff to prevent health problems from developing or worsening. They’re beneficial because they can help improve employee health outcomes overall (learn more about the link between health insurance and health outcomes here). By strategically incorporating preventative perks in your employee benefits offering, a significant number of staff could be spared from developing serious health conditions.

Offering preventative benefits is arguably one of the most cost-effective methods of mitigating the number of sick days as well as the increasing burden of healthcare costs on businesses and the society at large. In fact, the CDC estimated that treating preventable chronic illnesses accounts for over 85% of healthcare costs in the US.

There are a wide range of benefits associated with providing the right preventative employee perks, which we discuss in greater detail below.

Top reasons why preventative benefits are worth the investment

Not every business is able to afford the latest, greatest, and most comprehensive health benefits that the world has to offer. Nevertheless, there are numerous cost-effective measures businesses can employ to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees which – when implemented correctly – can pose significant advantages.

Reduce healthcare and claim costs

As medical and health insurance costs continue to inflate, employers are faced with the need to provide health benefits that are not only reactionary, but proactively improve employee health.

Employee health benefits tend to be useful only when an insured employee became ill and required treatment. In recent years, however, employers are increasingly focused on providing preventive benefits that boost workplace wellness, with the goal of managing healthcare and claim costs as the main motivator. Results from a recent Society for Human Resources survey reveal that almost 25% of employers plan on increasing workplace wellness benefits.

Numerous studies show that significant return on investment in the form of reduced healthcare and claim costs can be eventualized from implementing the right workplace wellness programs. In a typical population, chronically ill employees account for at least 50% of an organization’s claims expense. By offering preventative benefits that are focused on preventing at-risk employees from becoming chronically ill, one study cited in a Harvard Business Review article found that employer cost savings can be as high as 86%.

Bolster productivity

There’s no question that physically and mentally healthy employees are more productive. Staff who are absent not only cost you lost productivity, but you’re also likely paying sick leave entitlements for them too. Those employees who choose to come in when sick are also a problem. Presenteeism means you get a worker who’s not giving 100%, and is running the risk of sharing their sickness with others.

And the cost? According to our recent article, absenteeism conservatively costs employers USD 2,560 for every employee per year. Presenteeism costs twice that, and it’s estimated that the combined cost to business every year is in the hundreds of billions. For those looking for solutions, evidence also suggests that employees who participate in wellness programs regain an average of USD 353 per person vis-a-vis non-participants.

Attract and retain talent

The majority of job applicants consider a company’s employee benefits important when deciding whether to accept or decline a job offer. In order to attract the crème de la crème of talent, offering comprehensive benefits that go beyond basic health insurance cover, and are competitive in the industry, is thus imperative.

Offering competitive employee wellness benefits that include comprehensive preventative perks is also key for talent retention. Considering that turnover rates in certain industries are the highest it’s been in 10 years, plus the fact that 60% of millennials – now the largest working generation – say they are willing to leave their current employer in favor of better opportunities, and it’s easy to understand why a growing number of employers are focusing their attention on benefits as a retention tool.

What types of preventative benefits can employers offer?

There are countless preventative perks employers can offer to boost the health of their employees, both physically and mentally. This can mean anything from offering group health insurance that includes extended benefits for health check-ups, mental health support, and immunizations, to free fruit days and workplace yoga sessions that encourage positive behavioral change in the workforce. Employers can also encourage employees to be more active by offering standing desks, or leveraging technology (e.g. FitBits) to raise awareness of physical activity.

Of course, implementing a wellness program will require quite a lot of planning and consideration to ensure that it is cost-effective, as otherwise you might be investing a lot of money while receiving very few benefits in return. This is where knowing the right questions to ask before creating a wellness plan, as well as partnering with a veteran employee benefits expert like Pacific Prime, can make a whole world of difference for employers.

Getting support for boosting workplace wellness

One of the best ways to design, create, and implement a cost-effective employee benefits plan that includes considerations for preventative care is to partner with an experienced intermediary. A full-service employee benefits expert like Pacific Prime can walk you through all the stages of designing, implementing, and managing competitive, cost-effective benefits that provide maximum return on investment.

In addition to matching you with the best wellness and group medical insurance plans, as a full-service broker we also provide an extensive range of value-added services. Communications assistance, claims data analysis, and administrative support comes at no extra cost compared with going direct to the insurer. To learn more about us, click here, or get in touch with our corporate team for a free benefits review and quote today.

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