When you think of your business' resilience, how often do your company's health benefits cross your mind? Based on conversations we've had with businesses, most of the efforts to survive the Coronavirus pandemic have been, understandably, focused on payroll and simply making ends meet. But now we're in July with school and university openings coming quickly.
What do school and university openings have to do with employee benefits, you might be asking? Let's dig into the relationship, and how it provides a window into the importance of company health benefits to your overall business resilience.
Employee health benefits makeup 30% of the average labor costs in the United States according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 30% of your labor costs go to health benefits!!! With all of the money you're spending on health benefits, are those dollars improving your own business' resilience, or are you just helping make the bank accounts of benefits providers more resilient? If you're going to spend that much of your hard earned money on benefits for your employees, let's make sure those benefits help make your employees, and therefore your business, more resilient.
Health benefits are typically looked at from the perspective of the preventative and reactive medical care needs of employees, such as preventative doctor visits, elective surgeries, and of course emergency medical care needs. But does it cover the kind of medical leave required for the 2 week quarantine periods currently demanded of people infected with coronavirus?
What about the related medical needs of the employees family? For example, your benefits package may provide sick leave for the employee themself, but does it provide coverage for sick leave for the employee in the event they have a family member that is sick and needs care? Current CDC guidelines encourage the quarantine of entire families should one member of the family become infected with Coronavirus, leading potentially to more than 2 weeks of an employee with children being unable to come to work even when they are healthy!
Is your company benefit structure strong enough to accommodate such needs for your most valuable, and expensive, asset, your employees?
This brings us to how your company health benefits tie into the upcoming school reopening. The latest data from the CDC shows that Coronavirus is spreading much more among young people now than when the virus first appeared, but that the symptoms on the whole are far milder with a large percentage of infected young people being asymptomatic. But CDC guidelines remain the same for testing, quarantine, and isolation recommendations as 4 months ago when we had far less data on the spread and overall severity of the virus. With these challenges in place, schools across the country are planning their reopening under very challenging conditions for students and teachers.
This approach will directly impact your business' ability to stay resilient and operational. Working parents face the likely scenario of having to leave work, or work remotely where possible, for multiple weeks to care for otherwise healthy children who have to be quarantined.
Are those expensive health benefits, 30% of your labor costs, you're providing for your employees able to cover those kinds of impacts? Are you getting your money's worth paying for benefits for your employees that won't provide the kind of employee support and resilience your business needs?
That's just one situation we can all see coming. You, as the employer, are the key to keeping your best people supported to keep your business supported. With the cost of benefits already 1/3 of your labor costs, finding ways to reduce health plan costs, while maintaining high quality health benefits is the kind of competitive advantage that will put your business ahead of your competition, improving your margins while at the same time improving the resilience of your employees, and therefore the resilience of your business.
So in conclusion, there are still predictable significant, direct and indirect, challenges related to healthcare and benefits coming this year that will put strains on your business. Now is the time to plan for those challenges and make sure you have the tools in place to thrive when your competition is struggling. Some great places to start are:
The book The CEO's Guide to Restoring the American Dream: How to Deliver World Class Health Care to Your Employees at Half the Cost by Dave Chase.
In September, 2020, Houchens Benefits is bringing leading health benefits experts together for 3 separate conferences in the Evansville Tri-State area. These conferences will provide a tremendous amount of valuable information on how to maximize the value of your benefits cost. Details are still being finalized to maximize the safety of everyone involved, and we'll share more information as it's available.
These resources will have your business well on the way to being prepared for the challenges ahead.