Consider How Today’s Health Care Decisions Will Impact Your Workforce In Near Future

Because an organization’s approach to the provision of employee health care can significantly affect its ability to attract and retain a suitable workforce, employers should, in the near future, take the following recommended actions, according to a recently-released article in the World at Work Journal. An examination of a company’s total rewards strategy, including an analysis of which workforce segments are most significant and which rewards the employees in those segments value, is the first recommendation of Laurie Bienstock, Jill Havely, and Jane Jensen, authors of How Health-Care Reform Will Affect Total Rewards. Companies also should consider which employee behaviors improve productivity and how health care benefits might foster those behaviors, they said, and employers should be clear about what role health care benefits play in their organization’s employment brand image.

Bienstock, Havely, and Jensen also recommend that employers tailor their rewards programs to workforce segments or micro-segments, since some workers, such as longer-term employees, for example, might prefer high-end health care benefits to flexible work schedule options. The authors also point out that transparency, along with a strong change-management program, will minimize disruption to an employer’s business, while maintaining an atmosphere of trust and engagement. If changes are made to benefits, they say, employees should be told of the rationale leading to the changes, and how and when the changes will be implemented.

Employers also should revisit their employee value propositions (EVPs) periodically, and use upcoming regulatory health care benefit changes as an occasion for taking stock of their rewards programs, said the authors. Since the employer mandate takes effect in less than a year, benefits decisions made now will impact organizations’ ability to thrive, they advise.

Towers Watson research and client experience was referenced in the article, and showed that 47 percent of surveyed respondents planned to evaluate their health care benefits strategy within a broad total rewards context. However, it does not appear that employers are going to make extensive changes to their employment models, with 98 percent reporting that they would not avoid providing mandated coverage by asking full-time workers to switch to part-time hours. Eighty-nine percent of respondents did not plan to stop providing coverage entirely, and 82 percent still viewed health care benefits as an important element of their EVP.

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