Opportunity to Lower Your Health Care Cost?

by Janice Giannini

With a deep mastering at the intersection of IT and business strategy, consultant, board adviser and former C-suite executive, Janice has been harnessing the true power of IT for more than 30 years. An Executive and Board-level digital strategist at the intersection of risk and IT, she enhances competitive position through vision and equity with large-scale risk identification, quantification and mitigation in an ever-changing marketplace, generating long-term value for clients. She engages with senior executives and teams, particularly in complex businesses where misalignment is blocking their desired success, to develop and execute practical business strategies and plans. Clients have found her especially helpful when they recognize they must integrate an eagle's eye and worm's eye view in order to identify and remove obstacles. Janice has consistently taken on those challenges that others chose to run from. This typically involves those challenging times when failure is not an option and integrating business, technology and people changes must be accomplished simultaneously. As a result, many of her clients are complex organizations who won't settle for anything less than developing widespread professional competence.

Why would I select this title for an article with Paradigm Associates? While we are not in the business of negotiating better health care contracts with your providers, there is a linkage between creating a positively engaged environment and positively impacting your overall heath-related costs.

UPI recently reported that those engaged in their work tend to report excellent health, but emotionally disconnected workers tend to report poor health. A special Gallup daily tracking series was conducted to explore American workers' engagement levels. Based on worker responses to 12 workplace elements, there is a direct connection to performance outcomes; including productivity, customer service, quality, retention, safety and profit.

Engaged employees are involved and enthusiastic about their work, while those not engaged are satisfied, but not emotionally connected to their workplaces, and are less likely to put in discretionary effort. The actively disengaged are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace, and jeopardize the performance of their teams, Gallup officials report.

So what does engagement look like?

  • Are people proud of where they work and what they do?
  • When you are walking down the hallway in your business, do your coworkers look you in the eye to acknowledge you?
  • If a coworker drops a sheaf of papers or books in the middle of the hallway, do others stop to help or just move on past?
  • If you count the smiles and the frowns on people's faces, on any given day, what is the ratio?
  • Would you give morale a thumbs up, thumbs down, or a neutral in your business?
  • Is attrition going up as the economy improves?
  • When was the last time you asked for something versus informing someone, you needed it?

So what are some actions that you can take to increase employee engagement?

Focus on the workplace elements with proven connections to performance outcomes, including:

  • Productivity- Is the environment respectful and conducive to thinking and innovation? What is the instantaneous reaction if somebody has a new off the wall idea to share?
  • Customer Service- In addition to the vision statement saying customers are number one, do people from CEO on down to the janitor really behave that way? Do you notice it? What have you done lately to improve the culture?
  • Quality- Are your coworkers really proud of the quality produced or do they just say that's what management tells us to do?
  • Retention- Research says people don't start looking for another job because of money they do so because of the environment. As an aside they will negotiate when leaving but that is not the driver. Is your environment inclusive and open?
  • Safety - Is this in the DNA of the business or is it an afterthought? What have you done lately to change the culture?
  • Profit- Is it profit at all costs no matter how you get there? Or is it high expectations in an ethical way?

One of the areas that your competitors are investing in, is improving employee engagement. Why are they doing this? They are investing in it because they recognize that with increased engagement comes improved results, innovation and growth. It was reported recently that innovation and growth and talent development for the future is the number one concern for CEOs today. The other benefit based on the above report indicates that they are also benefitting from decreased health care costs.

Are your health care costs higher than you would like? So what's to stop you from engaging your employees to lower your health care cost? In addition you may also produce the 6 I's:

  1. Increased productivity,
  2. Improved customer service,
  3. Improved quality,
  4. Increased retention,
  5. Improved safety and
  6. Increased profits.

If you want to have the 6 I's- what stops you from starting today?