The Best Health Benefits Will Keep the Best Employees in Your Ranks

With a tightening labor force and the unemployment rate at a mere 3.7%, employers are chasing the talent—not the other way around. Not only that, but it’s getting more difficult to keep the most capable workers around. Since 2015, there have been more job openings than new hires, which means unhappy employees have more opportunities to find a new position.


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Job-hopping has become commonplace, especially in the younger generations, but the decision to move on isn’t all about the money. In fact, benefits options play a key role in these decisions, with 50% of employees saying that if their employer did not offer adequate health benefits, they would look elsewhere. If employers want to stay competitive, they must start listening—and responding appropriately.

A DIY Benefits Reform Movement

Joey Huang, co-owner of Ohio-based Great Lakes Auto Network, was tired of providing benefits to employees that cost too much and weren’t good enough. He understood this wasn’t the smartest route to keep his workforce in tip-top shape, so he reached out to Bryce Heinbaugh, a benefits adviser who builds plans using the principles of the Health Rosetta, an open-source blueprint for better benefits.

By using the new plan they developed, Huang was able to double his workforce, going from owning three dealerships to six, and reduce costs for his company by 38%. Working with Heinbaugh freed up so much room in his budget—a savings of $1.8 million over 6 years—that he was able to give his employees another reason to stay with the company: a healthcare holiday month during which no one paid premiums.

Believing it’s important to invest in the people/community where one’s business operates, Huang has also given more than $250,000 to schools in Ashtabula County, where they raise money via raffles, and has raised over $1 million for the Cleveland’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

The importance of providing better benefits to employees isn’t lost on large companies either. Apple and Amazon have decided to take their employees’ health care to the next level by opening their own care clinics. They are opting not to use third parties to provide care and are instead hiring their own medical professionals—a break from the status quo.

Despite being deep in an industry with high turnover rates, Apple seems to keep employees around the longest, though the average tenure is still only 2 years. A contributing factor to its success? Listening to employee wants and needs—in 2014, then head of HR Denise Young Smith surveyed 98,000 employees to see what benefits they cared about most.

Learning Exactly What Your Employees Need

According to the Society of Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) “2017 Employee Benefits Survey,” nearly one-third of employers expanded their benefits packages last year.

To truly create an environment where your employees will thrive and be satisfied—and remain loyal to your organization for the long run—get to know their unique needs. For example, Millennials are the workforce’s largest generation, and nearly all of them are approaching or are older than 26. At this point, they can no longer stay on their parents’ health insurance, so health benefits will be a prime target when they are job shopping. Use this information to incentivize them to stay.

Furthermore, Millennials like convenience. Rather than wait in line at their primary care doctor, they often lose patience and go to the ER instead. This could explain why primary care visits by adults under 65 dropped 18% from 2012–2016, and visits to nurse practitioners and physician assistants increased a whopping 129%.

This is a reaction to making it too hard to access primary care physicians in part because they’re spending 2 hours on paperwork for every hour of clinical care. Not being able to schedule same-day appointments is a major pain point for Gen-Xers, too.

Generational needs aren’t the only thing to think about, though. Employees whose jobs require heavy lifting may benefit from things like stretching or physical therapy programs; those who are younger may be interested in family planning services or access to mental health services, which are not typically covered by insurance. Older adults may be interested in cancer-screening services or cardiac care.

With value-based primary care, these specific employee needs can easily be met. Compared to the status quo fee-for-service model, a value-based one would reward providers for treatment results rather than the number of procedures/services—some that may be costly and unnecessary—they order. In contrast to volume and referral-centric primary care practices, modern primary care practices can fully address well over 80% of the issues for which people enter the healthcare system.

This also incentivizes providers to spend more time with patients and get the diagnosis right the first time, effectively thinning waiting rooms and allowing for patients to make same-day appointments rather than paying the ER a visit.

When incorporated into a value-based model, telehealth—which would eliminate the need for doctors to see patients face to face to get paid and facilitate conversations via text, e-mail, or even video—can also improve care quality without increasing cost.

In fact, as my nonprofit has studied well-designed health plans, value-based primary care is a constant in the organizations spending 20%–40% less per capita on health benefits while having superior health outcomes.

Listening to, and Retaining, Employees

To keep a business’s most important asset—its employees—around, employers must stay in tune with their demands. A majority have expressed that benefits packages play a large part in determining their future with a company, and considering today’s low unemployment rate, employers can’t continue to offer subpar care.

With better benefits, specifically those found in a value-based care model, companies can have better control over their retention rates, their employees’ health and happiness, and their bottom line, too. The Great Lakes Auto Network, Apple, and Amazon have begun to pave a new path. Will your business follow in their footsteps?

Dave ChaseDave Chase is cofounder of Health Rosetta, which aims to accelerate the adoption of simple, practical, non-partisan fixes to our health care system. He is also the author of CEO’s Guide to Restoring the American Dream.

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