Cutting Wellness May Cut Profits

16 Jul

Human Resources Cost CuttingThis guest blog post is courtesy of Mary Anne Osborne, SPHR, and principal of the Osborne Group. Mary Anne is a people-centric HR professional and consultant with over 25 years of HR experience in telecom, finance, manufacturing, healthcare and higher education.  Mary Anne presents monthly on our complimentary Sage HR R&R: Refresh and Recertify Webcast Series.

The cost of healthcare is continually on the rise as a result of the economy and recent changes to federal laws. Employers are trying to find ways to save money without sacrificing employee engagement, but the trade-off could seem too compelling for those already struggling with shrinking customer bases. The problem is, it may be more expensive to cut benefits than to continue these programs.

The healthcare condition

A study by Towers Watson has found that, indeed, average payments for insurance and other health costs have remained high for the last three years. In some countries, the annual increase has been more than 10 percent for overall coverage. The upward climb has seen a slowdown during that time frame, but the consistent trend isn’t heartening for HR and payroll personnel tasked with finding more money within existing infrastructure.

Proactive support initiatives

The problem with taking away benefits is that businesses have difficulty with retaining top talent and attracting similar candidates. Offering top-notch services may be more expensive, but companies like Verizon prove that this employee investment strategy actually pays off over time.

Verizon was named the National Business Group on Health’s 2012 Best Employer for Healthy Lifestyles. The credit was earned by offering wellness and health facilities at 44 of its central locations which offer free services to employees. Encouraging wellness through the company not only makes for a better-prepared workforce, it also helps manage the cost by stabilizing these facilities as business-owned, ensuring outside HMO’s can’t affect the cost or overcharge insurance providers for services.

Methods in management

Getting everyone on the same page for fitness may seem challenging to HR professionals, but there’s no need to invest in on-site medical facilities or other extravagant programs if it simply isn’t in the budget. You may even have an opportunity to use technology to improve employee wellness for much less of a cost, both for staff and the company.

Using innovative online teaching tools can give employees an education in self-help. A business can invest in its own wellness software or purchase licenses at much less of a cost in order to provide workers with tools about dieting, exercise and long-term planning. These tips and tricks are essential for promoting a more flex between work and life and increasing employee engagement through positive reinforcement of good habits

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