How Employers Can Help Employees Improve Health and Wealth Engagement

This post is sponsored by HSA Bank empowering employees and employers to do make the most of their healthcare dollars. See our FTC disclosure at the end. 

The costs and expenses associated with healthcare services for both individuals and employers are on the rise, making it essential for them to focus on both their physical and financial health. And for employees who are about to enter retirement age, particularly the baby boomer generation, physical health and its potential costs are a top concern. This uneasiness is compelling many adults to work well into the typical retirement years. This growing trend also increases healthcare costs for employers and their employees. This includes not just the individual worker but everyone who is part of an employer-sponsored healthcare plan.

Many employees are surprised by the cost of healthcare benefit premiums when exiting employees receive their COBRA notices or as part of their research and plan evaluation process during the ACA enrollment period.

I believe it is our responsibility as employers to educate employees not only on the costs of healthcare programs but more importantly, how employees can manage their healthcare finances alongside their physical health. Both are an important component of helping them prepare to balance the decisions and costs associated with healthy living and healthcare.

However, more than education is needed. Employers and plan sponsors must seek out actionable ways to measure and improve employee engagement when it comes to physical and financial health.

One great resource I recommend is the HSA Bank Health & Wealth IndexSM
. This resource helps to raise awareness of gaps in the knowledge and behaviors of your workforce when it comes to physical and financial well-being. The calculator tool provides a personalized starting point for employees with actionable recommendations to increase engagement. The goal of these tools is to encourage employees to think and act differently, specifically for the long term.

How Employers Can Help Employees Improve Health and Wealth Engagement

Sixty-five percent of consumers are aware of how much they’ll need to pay for cost sharing like copays and deductibles under their current health plan, according to the HSA Bank Health & Wealth IndexSM

SM. However, this same report shows that fewer consumers (only 59 percent) save money for future healthcare expenses, perhaps because 83 percent feel that their health plan coverage helps them attain the medical services needed at a manageable cost. Another insight from the report is that 35 percent of subjects in the study never even consider cost when selecting health services.

The reality is that these same consumers are also your employees. And since finances are a leading cause for household stress, this education and planning piece is critical because it impacts our current and future workforce.

This lack of financial planning or education on benefit program coverage maximums, minimums, and cost probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you and me because we have worked in HR. We have managed health plans, chatted with employees about COBRA, or negotiated an annual benefits plan. We understand that this information is essential to planning for and managing future healthcare expenses, and yet we know firsthand how often employee’s don’t think about this until it’s too late.

There is definitely room for improvement in terms of employees healthcare plan knowledge. Working with your plan provider and company benefits expert to invest in education and resources is critical for helping to answer employee questions before they are impacted financially.

The good news is that I’ve found that most employees are willing to make changes once they understand the cost implications, and HSA Bank’s report supports this. Ninety-three percent of those surveyed received at least one preventative health service or screening annually. Many more are willing to make other lifestyle changes that in turn lower healthcare expenses for the individual, which also by default benefits the larger employee population on the company sponsored benefit plan.

Most surveyed (86 percent) believe they have made lifestyle changes to improve their health in the past year. They are open and willing to make some changes. Employers and health services providers can help consumers improve their health and finances by providing resources that support these efforts.

The Keys to Improving Employees’ Health and Wealth

The majority (70 percent) of surveyed consumers indicated that they are moderately to highly engaged when it comes to physical and financial well-being; HSA Bank recommends targeting this population to have the greatest impact on health and wealth engagement. These employees are likely to take further steps to improve their health and financial well-being given their current level of engagement. The alternative is to target employees who are minimally engaged, but with these employees making up only 7.4 percent of those surveyed, HSA Bank recommends casting a wider net.

These targeted programs are most effective if they support employees in making small changes instead of taking all steps at once. This type of actionable guidance can have a big impact on employees’ physical and financial future. Start by assessing employees’ engagement levels to determine how to implement the most effective benefit programs.

Read more in HSA Bank’s report (available here), or use their calculator to see where you and your employees fall on the health and wellness index.

*A special thank you to this article’s sponsor, HSA Bank

 FTC Disclosure: Xceptional HR Consulting received compensation for mentioning the product listed above as part of one of the services offer clients and readers. We only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readership. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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