Researcher and management guru Jim Collins is well-known for his authored works Good to Great and Built to Last. In this latter book, a thought-provoking point is made:
“Indeed, if there is any one 'secret' to an enduring great company, it is the ability to manage continuity and change — a discipline that must be consciously practiced, even by the most visionary of companies.”
Managing continuity and change can be challenging – especially in the realm of healthcare, and especially if you’re a small- to medium-size business (SMB).
Small and medium-size businesses place high importance overall on workforce health. In fact, nearly 93% say the health of their employees is important to their business's bottom line. Unfortunately, nearly 60% of these employers say that there is not enough information available to small businesses about implementing wellness programs – and there isn’t any wonder why.
Formal wellness programs have traditionally been more common in larger companies with with the scalability and resources to make it work. These programs have proven that improving employee health can reduce the cost of care in the long-term — and SMBs have taken notice.
For example, it used to be that big companies were the only ones willing to self-insure; now, SMBs are partnering together to form new private self-insurance pools. In order to join these pools, employers must agree to actively engage employees in healthier behavior and aim to reduce claim costs. The idea is to create the cleanest risk pool possible with proven wellness strategies.
While SMBs are taking note of big company wellness strategies, it’s important that solutions are scalable and sustainable. Here are five wellness strategies you can begin exploring and scaling for your SMB:
5 Scalable Wellness Strategies for SMBs
1. Screenings, HRAs, and Referrals Leading to Follow-Up Education and Counseling
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – especially in employer-sponsored healthcare. Offering a personal health assessment on an annual basis is the first step towards engaging employees in their health. On the employer side, an aggregate report serves as an initial game plan for your corporate wellness goals. For employees, a simple blood panel test can shed light on areas of potential concern or even emergent needs.
2. Policies and Financial Incentives that Support Healthy Lifestyles
Nearly 90% of employers offer incentives to employees who work toward getting healthier, according to a recent survey from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health. If you’re encountering limited program engagement and general obstacles to success, try building rewards (or even penalties) into your wellness offerings.
3. Environmental Interventions that Support Healthy Lifestyles
Wellness is so much more than a bowl of fruit in the break room or Body Mass Index poster on the wall. Your work environment should implicitly and explicitly support personal and corporate wellness goals. This means creating opportunities for employees to make healthy choices, by creating a supportive work environment that reinforces healthy behaviors. Hold interdepartmental wellness competitions, healthy cook-offs, or schedule engaging lunch and learns.
4. Health Education Classes, Workshops, and Medical Self-Care
The fortune is in the follow-up – employees should discuss personal health assessment results with their primary care physician to discuss actionable steps and need for any necessary medication. Of course this step is most streamlined and effectively coordinated in a multi-employer clinic. In addition, employers can promote awareness and support lifestyle changes through educational opportunities.
5. Frequent and Simple Prevention Messages
You know the saying "out of sight; out of mind?" Well this couldn’t be truer in the world of wellness. We’re not talking about blasting your employees’ inboxes, but we are talking about leveraging the channels you have to communicate wellness information – from physical places to digital spaces. The key is to make it simple – don’t just forward an incomprehensible study from the New England Journal of Medicine. Share and feature information that is easily understood and engaging.
6. Shared- or Near-Site Medical Clinics
One myth amongst smaller employers is that on-site medical clinics are only a valid solution for large employers. In reality, there are different ways for SMBs to engage in direct primary care that provide the same benefits to both employees and employers:
- Shared-site clinics are typically shared by 1 to 4 anchor employers, both in terms of office hours and cost. The result of the care is exactly the same as the traditional on-site clinics, but with significantly less financial obligation.
- Near-site (networked) clinics are also shared by multiple employers, but most of the risk and start-up cost is usually placed on the on-site clinic vendor. In addition, these clinic networks typically start and spread to serve SMBs in throughout single Metropolitan area.
With the rising cost of care, employers large and small are seeking cost-effective programs and services that address chronic disease and focus on prevention. SMBs can learn a great deal from big company wellness strategies, but it starts with understanding company goals and scaling solutions for sustainable continuity and change.