Employee financial health should be a core concern for employers
By Christopher Wolfington
Employees are resources just like any other physical or financial resource for an employer (which is why the term ‘human resources’ came about). As such, they are of immense value for companies. What makes employees important, obviously, is that humans are much more dynamic of a resource than anything else. Human ingenuity, creativity, and determination are wildly valuable qualities that simply can’t be replicated by the third floor printer.
Clearly, employers should value employees and want to put them into a position to succeed. As a result, it is vital for employers to not only value their employees’ physical and mental health, but their financial health as well because that financial health directly affects the former two.
It is a widely-known fact that healthy employees simply make for better employees. This applies to both mental and physical health. Part of this is obviously because healthier employees will simply take fewer sick days and be at work more often. Another part is that healthy employees are happier and produce more than unhealthy employees. According to the World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health, healthy employees are 3.1 times more effective and productive than unhealthy ones. This is not an insignificant number, and smart employers actively try to encourage proactive health to help all their employees be healthier.
However, in addition to focusing on employee mental and physical health, employers should also care about their employees’ financial stability. Some of this is helped by providing a reasonable living wage to their employees. But a significant portion of it is also health-related. A Wex Health report found that two thirds of those surveyed are “somewhat or very worried about unexpected out-of-pocket costs associated with their current healthcare needs or illnesses.” One in three employees report that financial stress is a distraction at work, and worries about health costs help contribute to that.
Why do so many people worry about health care? There’s one large factor: health care is expensive. That much is obvious for anyone in the United States, especially those who are forced to use plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.
There is also one additional big factor, which is the fact that patients are shouldering an increasing burden of healthcare costs. Forward thinking companies that can offer a streamlined and simplified service geared towards helping patients schedule payments and understand their medical bills will therefore help employers by reducing employee stress and financial burden.