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Workforce Health

Delivering health and wellness as part of workforce experience

From a practical standpoint, employee health has become critical for business continuity and for overall productivity. So how can employers prepare themselves to more effectively support Employee Health as an important part of the Employee Experience?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This guest blog post was written by Jason Averbook. Jason is a leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of human resources, the future of work and the impact technology has on that future. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a digital transformation company shaping the future of work by broadening executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that meet the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business.

Prior to founding Leapgen, Jason served as the CEO of The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC). In 2005, he co-founded Knowledge Infusion LLC and served as its CEO until 2012, when the company was sold to Appirio. Earlier in his career, he served as the Chief Business Innovation Officer at Appirio Inc., where he led the HCM business. He has also held senior leadership roles at PeopleSoft and Ceridian Corporation. Jason has more than 20 years of experience in the HR and technology industries and has collaborated with industry-leading companies in transforming their HR organizations into strategic partners.


We know half of the American population relies on an employer for their healthcare coverage; those employers cover 70% of the costs of providing that coverage. If 2020 reinforced a single Moment that Matters when it comes to work, it’s the mental and physical health and safety of our people. From a practical standpoint, employee health has become critical for business continuity and for overall productivity.

So how can employers prepare themselves to more effectively support Employee Health as an important part of the Employee Experience? We understand it’s more important than ever to employees and more critical than ever for business continuity. But we also understand 1) the realities of health experience are changing as fast as workforce experience, 2) healthcare costs will rise considerably in 2021, if not sooner, and 3) employees will continue to expect streamlined, consumerized experiences that exceed their current experience of workforce-facing technology.

Health Experience in the Digital Age

The people who work for you are worthy customers, and they are expectant consumers. Like your external customers, they expect and deserve an elevated experience that demonstrates you know who they are, understand what is important to them, and care enough to deliver. Likewise, today’s consumers are modern, savvy, and digital. They expect streamlined, personalized, and relevant experiences delivered naturally in channels and on devices where they already spend their time. 

These are the modern expectations we have for workforce experience; the same bar is set for delivering a holistic, consumerized, modern experience of health and wellness programs and employer-provided benefits.

Expectations are increasing; so are healthcare costs

Employers preparing to deliver effectively in 2021 should be thinking about Health Experience, and they also need to be thinking about the net value that can be created in delivering that experience.

Employers should be bracing now for a significant increase in healthcare costs. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) annual medical cost trend study was released in mid-June, and it shows the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has already dramatically impacted employer healthcare spending. This is likely to continue into next year. PwC forecasts three scenarios for predicted medical costs in 2021, with the highest scenario of growth projected at 10% and the lowest scenario showing a 4% increase to medical spending. 

“Employers are incurring unplanned COVID-19 testing and treatment costs in 2020, and those costs likely will continue in 2021,” the report stated. As we approach 2021, we will see increased demand for care, both for elective services and procedures necessarily delayed by the pandemic, as well as for new health conditions rapidly emerging.

PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) identified several major inflators expected to drive healthcare spending in 2021. Just one inflator is how COVID-19 boosted mental health utilization. Employers have been placing greater importance on expanded mental health benefits in recent years, recognizing holistic wellness spans mental, financial, social and other needs, not just medical. The pandemic introduced or exacerbated concerns around social isolation, anxiety, work pressure, managing new priorities at home, and general concern for personal health and safety. So while mental health needs are increasing, so is our utilization of those health benefits. 

In other words, everything is INCREASING: the demand for care, new and emerging health concerns, our needs for mental health and other wellness offerings, and the costs associated with providing health and wellness to the workforce. CEOs are looking to HR to come up with solutions for managing cost and delivering additional offerings. This means value also needs to increase. If you don’t have reliable insights and data to tell a story, all the offerings in the world won’t translate to value because you simply won’t know what’s working and what’s not working.

HR needs to deliver an experience, not a product

Realizing business value in health and wellness programs and employer-provided benefits requires your workforce UTILIZES and REALIZES VALUE themselves. The global health pandemic of 2020 reinforced how critical employee health is to business continuity and to overall productivity. Healthy employees are required for healthy business. So how can we support healthy employees?

That’s the job of HR. To deliver an easy, consumer-like experience that puts value-adding solutions and tools in the hands of your workforce so they can work easily, stay well, and contribute value. Employees don’t know or care what your tools or workforce-facing technologies are; they want SOLUTIONS to PROBLEMS so they can WORK. 

A point solution, or a single product delivering a single use case and experience, is not a solution. While they may offer an innovative approach to a singular need, they often put the onus of utilization, adoption, and outcome on the individual. That would be like using one smartphone to access a map/navigation feature, another smartphone to use for phone calls and texts, and yet another smartphone for my camera. Each of the features might be best-in-their particular breed, but without bringing together I’m unlikely to use any of them well.

Health Operating Systems, on the other hand, connect all of your health and benefit systems and programs, from HRIS and benefits administration to individual health and wellbeing solutions. By creating a single access point and a seamless experience for employee health and benefits, an enterprise health OS helps drive engagement and reduces costs for employers and employees.

This analogy might help: Just like Uber or Lyft makes it easy for consumers to connect to drivers and get from Point A to Point B by connecting multiple complex systems and processes on the back end, a Health Operating System helps your employees connect to all of your health and benefit programs by integrating all of your HR and benefit systems and programs and creating a front door that helps maximize engagement, drive better health outcomes, and reduce costs. This holistic approach and seamless experience allows people to more proactively manage their health needs, easily access benefits, and effectively utilize programs and services that can help and support them. Better yet, the experience is personalized and relevant to me, further increasing my utilization. All of this is carefully measured so the business sees the outcomes, like more productive time at work, increased engagement and morale, and improvement to work culture and environment. 

Healthy employees drive healthy businesses. This is done most effectively with a Health Operating System that integrates health experience with overall workforce experience. Read my tips on integrating your Health Operating System into a new HR Operations model, and visit League’s HBX offering for help accelerating your enterprise recovery plan with a Health OS.


ABOUT LEAPGEN

Leapgen is a global digital transformation company shaping the future of work. Highly respected as a visionary partner to organizations looking to design and deliver a digital workforce experience that will produce valued outcomes to the business, Leapgen helps enterprise leaders rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services and architect HR technology solutions that meet the expectations of workers and the needs of the business. Contact us to get started.

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