The Wellness Culture and How It Can Lower Your Claims Costs

02-Aug-2016by Donald Chu, CEBSclicks: 989

 

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes and 2 seconds.

A good sign that your employee benefits plan is appreciated and well-received by your employees is when claims come streaming in. However, higher claims can suggest an increase in plan costs upon renewal. This leaves many employers wondering how they can minimize the claims volume without necessarily changing the benefits plan itself. In a previous article titled ‘Tips on Keeping Employee Benefits Costs Down’, we highlighted three easy-to-share industry pointers.

Another suggestion that we offer our clients is to begin implementing an employee wellness program. By taking action and actively encouraging your employees to live healthier lifestyles, you are giving them the tools to improve their own health, the chance to become happier and more engaged at work, and the possibility to eventually reduce their dependence on medications or paramedical services. As an organization, you also attract employees who value health and wellbeing, and your wellness culture could be what sways them to accept a position at your company instead of at your competitor’s.

According to a Benefits Canada article, organizations such as Canada Life, Dupont, Prudential Insurance and Citibank report positive ROI in the range of $2 to $6.85 savings for each $1 invested in employee wellness. While there are many ways to promote wellness in your organization, below you will find a few ideas that you can begin implementing today.

1. Foster a Culture of Wellness within Your Organization

While you can’t dictate how your employees will choose to live, you can help them make healthier choices by offering them healthier options. Employees spend the majority of their time at the office, so it’s the ideal place to provide greater accessibility and communication about health and wellness.

To induce higher productivity, swapping out high-calorie and high-sugar junk food for protein bars, fresh fruits or nuts can go a long way in keeping employees energized at the office. And don’t underestimate the small gestures such as adding a bike rack outside, setting up a ping pong table in unused warehouse space, or planning a mid-day group walks. Other ideas could be to plan monthly lunch-and-learn sessions with nutrition and exercise experts who can inform your employees on various health-related topics.

2. Promote Free Government-Run Wellness Programs and Services

According to studies, the cost of depression, anxiety and addiction alone in the workplace costs Canada $51 billion a year including health care costs, lost productivity and reductions in health-related quality of life. Fully understanding the impact of these costs on society, both provincial and federal governments have allocated resources to educate and help prevent chronic illnesses.  

For example, HeretoHelp in British Columbia is a non-profit organization formed by seven leading provincial mental health and addictions agencies who freely offer resources and information to people who are coping with mental health and substance use problems.

Whether it’s dealing with mental health issues, tackling debt, handling stress, learning about nutrition, or managing chronic illnesses without medication, many other organizations offer information and resources to Canadians at no cost. Promoting these types of organizations and services within your company and sharing information with your employees offers them an unbiased and confidential outlet if and when they require additional support to stay healthy.

3. Implement a Wellness Health Spending Account

By setting up a health spending account for employees, you are giving them extra means to afford gym memberships, exercise classes, and other relevant wellness services that fall under the coverage. The amount covered under a health spending account can range from $100-$500 per employee or more, and it’s considered taxable income for employees. Claims are submitted for reimbursement by employees, so managing the health spending account in-house can be time-consuming for small or medium businesses. Opting for a packaged wellness services such as an employee assistance program (EAP) can makes things easier and more accessible.

At BenefitDeck, we offer client workplace wellness solutions in partnership with LifeWorks, called OneSource. Simple online claim submissions, resources and supporting services make OneSource an ideal solution for many companies who want the benefits of a wellness program without all of the administrative hassle. A full range of services for employees also ensures that they have access to the best health and wellness resources in one convenient place. In-person counselling and online coaching from accredited specialists are available to help employees deal with any type of situation or crises.

Investments in Wellness Lead to Significant Returns

If you’re looking for ways to minimize claims on your benefits plan, consider the options that will encourage your employees to lead healthier lifestyles. By fostering a healthier workforce and culture centered on wellness, you stand to benefit from the outcome in the long run; both by reducing claims costs directly associated to chronic and mental illnesses and by attracting and retaining happier and more productive employees. Interested in setting up a health spending account or need advice on wellness matters? Contact our team at BenefitDeck.