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A New Year: A New Way to Approach Employee Health

2020 felt like the year that would never end. Yet while vaccines offer hope for a pandemic endgame, employee burnout and stress (which was mounting even before the pandemic) remain at an all-time high. The historic stress of this period has elevated the importance of supporting employee health and well-being in the workplace.

Even when the pandemic recedes, savvy employers should continue to support employee health with a holistic approach and the right benefits. This strategy will protect business continuity and spur recovery this year and into the future. Let’s take a closer look.

Why Employee Health Matters

Employee health is suffering as stress levels continue to rise, exacerbated by a remote-first, always-on work culture that has emerged over the last 10 to 15 years. As employee burnout rates rise, poor mental health rises with it, affecting workplace morale and compromising employees’ ability to thrive. Now more than ever, meaningful health benefits matter. Employee benefit priorities must shift in response.

Employees have always wanted to feel valued by their employers, but during the pandemic, many felt that this recognition seemed to fall by the wayside, with the majority of workers stuck at home, isolated and laboring under new constraints and demands. According to recent research, 84% of adults say their lives have been disrupted by the pandemic. [1]

Prior to 2020, many employers didn’t have a contingency plan for the pandemic or any crisis event. To complicate matters, insufficient or lack of mental health coverage may be hampering employees’ ability to access support and resources. According to research conducted during the first months of the pandemic, 58% of struggling employees said their employer didn’t provide helpful or accessible mental health programs that meet their specific needs. [2]

Benefits to Support Employee Health

Employers may be looking into 2021 with new game plans in mind, but their goals remain the same: protect the bottom line and retain happy, healthy employees. Employers can accomplish both by providing their workforce with robust health benefits that address today’s most pressing issues, including employee burnout. The right health benefit solutions combine coverage with accessible wellness treatment, encouraging employees to seek help when needed. Implementing these employee health plans will reduce costs and protect against lost productivity stemming from poor mental health, employee burnout, turnover and decreased morale.

But that is only the first step. If the right benefits aren’t easily accessible, employees may not feel the need to go out and seek treatment, especially if their employers don’t communicate about options. Clear communication can help employees gain awareness of their benefits and can help them better understand what’s covered. In fact, 49% of employees who understand their benefits are holistically better off. [3]

Put simply, benefits matter—now and well into the future. Following competitive compensation and recognition, employees rank robust benefits programs that provide meaningful coverage as one of the top drivers of holistic well-being. [4]

Taking a Holistic Approach to Employee Health

Employee health is multifaceted and must be holistically addressed to effectively support well-being. The pandemic shifted these needs drastically, and 74% of employees are concerned about at least one aspect of their well-being as a result of the virus. [5] But what are the aspects that comprise holistic employee health?

Financial health: Encompasses personal and family financial security. This can be severely affected by gaps in coverage and increasing out-of-pocket costs.

Social health: Concerns the ability to form and sustain healthy relationships with friends and family. This is one of the most impacted aspects from the pandemic because of social distancing.

Physical health: Relates to chronic or acute illness, as well as a healthy lifestyle. Many people stuck at home may fall into habits of barely sleeping and overworking, with no exercise or proper nutrition in between.

Mental health: Concerns psychological and emotional well-being. This can be as small as everyday stressors that contribute to employee burnout, or as large as severe and chronic mental illnesses. Almost 60% of adults with a mental illness don’t receive the care that they need, [6] and it’s costing employers big, to the tune of $575 billion and 1.5 billion days of lost productivity. [7]

Proactively Supporting Employee Health

How can you address each unique aspect of employee health, while we continue to operate in a remote-first workspace?

Support financial health: Implement solid, innovative employer-sponsored supplemental healthcare plans to close gaps and help cover deductibles.

Tend to social health by maintaining good communications. Help employees feel valued through recognition, affirmation and communication about health benefits that matter; offer them plan conveniences that save them time and protect them from employee burnout.

Address physical health with access to and support for the right care and coverage for routine or unexpected care. Many employees, who are more burdened with the cost of care, fear having steep out-of-pocket expenses. The right gap closing supplemental coverage can alleviate that.

Protect emotional health, with supplemental coverage for mental health and well-being services, care navigation and prescriptions. Support better mental health, even for healthy employees, with coverage for wellness treatments like acupuncture and message therapy.

Specifically designed to address limitations of primary health insurance coverage, ArmadaCare’s solutions provide the ability to offer health insurance coverage that supports the whole employee, while maintaining the flexibility to be tailored to the contemporary needs of employers of all sizes and budgets. Plans like ArmadaCare’s WellPak provides accessible treatment and coverage for prescription and doctor’s visits, and can be utilized proactively by all employees, not just those suffering from a mental condition. Learn about how our wide range of plans can support employee health, reduce employee burnout and protect the bottom line.

[1] KFF, 2020

[2] MetLife, 2020

[3] MetLife, 2019-2020

[4] MetLife, 2019-2020

[5] MetLife, 2020

[6] NAMI, 2020

[7] IBI, 2019

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