by Brian Denten, Marketing Associate for WorkZone
In early 2013, a national drugstore chain that required its employees to undergo physicals or face health insurance fines made national business news. It may seem intrusive to some, but small business owners concerned about cutting back on costs need to consider every avenue of cost-reduction.
Business owners can learn from this example to cut back on employee health care expenses without cutting back on health care itself.
1. Required Physical.
Require that your employees get yearly physicals, or charge them a fee. Keep track of who completes the physicals and send out reminders via cloud based project management software until everyone follows through. Annual visits to the doctor might include:
- Screening and tests for conditions and diseases
- Counseling for quitting addictions, losing weight and mental health
As HealthCare.gov explains, preventive care can prove integral to identifying illness early on and addressing health problems before they become major concerns. While you can’t force every employee to meet with a doctor, you can impose a fee on anyone who refuses so that they’d prefer not to bypass the requirement. Basic annual physicals are covered in their entirety or near entirety by most health care plans thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
2. Office Workout Station.
Not every office can afford to devote a room entirely to exercise, nor can they afford a lot of exercise equipment. However, you should provide a gym or small workout station in the office to the best of your ability so employees have an easily accessible place to get some exercise during their day. A single stationary bike or even just a small set of weights in an out-of-the-way corner of the office could be the impetus employees need to work out during their breaks. The physical exertion will also help them return to work with refreshed, more focused minds.
3. Health Orientation.
The mistakes people make in trying to live healthy are mostly a result of misinformation. Some people might believe that they can lose weight by skipping meals, for example. Others might be afraid that it takes more time and effort than they have to start living healthier.
Give your employees a helping hand by inviting a nutrition or exercise expert to provide a health orientation at your office. The orientation should focus on how employees can eat better and fit more exercise into their busy days.
4. Healthy Snack Zone.
You can’t control what employees bring for lunches and snacks or where they go to eat, but you can offer a helping hand by making your office a healthy snack zone. When it comes to the food you provide — whether in vending machines, in the break room cupboards or even in the cafeteria if you have one — allow only foods with nutritional value. Don’t provide any empty-calorie foods like sweets or sodas. Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, water and teas are some healthy food and drink options.
5. Sports Games.
Hold company-wide sports games in your down time on a regular basis. Encourage employees to come by providing incentives, such as the winning team getting to choose where a donation is made, the winning office department getting a little boost in their budget for the month, or prizes and gift cards from places in the community. Sporting events also allow your staff to bond in an environment outside the daily grind of business operations.
These events don’t need to be based on competition; the point is to get people moving. You can sign the office up for a marathon or go swimming at a community sports center. Even holding a formal dance can be a fun way to socialize and exercise with employees and their friends and family.
If you encourage employees to take steps to decrease their health care costs, you’re not just cutting back on business costs, you’re helping your employees lead healthier lives. While some medical expenses are unavoidable, your employees owe it to themselves and to the company, if the company is providing health care insurance or savings accounts, to be as healthy as can be. Promote a healthy lifestyle at work, and employees will be more likely to continue living healthily at home with their families.
Brian Denten is the Marketing Associate for WorkZone.