In every business community you can find a number of well-respected employers. Their very name makes other businesses and the general public smile with appreciation. You see them at walks and runs. You see their names among the sponsors of events to cure diseases and fill food pantries. Their executives sit on the boards of nonprofits.
These corporate heroes are also health leaders.
We might think they have to be large companies with lots of resources, offering premium health benefit plans to their employees while generously supporting local charitable organizations. But there’s no reason why a small business can’t also be a health leader, and do it in a cost-effective manner.
Being a health leader starts with offering health benefits to employees. Today health insurers offer a range of plans that accommodate the needs of small employers with fewer than 50 employees. Many offer plans that enable small businesses to pick several plan options while keeping costs under control.
Beyond the basics of offering health insurance, being a health leader entails a number of other commitments by the business, none of which has to be cost-prohibitive:
- Get Employees Out – encourage employees to participate in walks, runs, cycling and other events that support nonprofit organizations helping to improve the community’s health. These organizations may be researching or educating the public on diseases, providing health services, or bringing wellness and nutritional programs to underserved communities.
- Get Involved – include the company in communitywide efforts to improve health, such as blood or flu-shot drives.
- Get Competitive – support healthy competitions among the staff. For example, encourage employees to walk more by giving them inexpensive pedometers and hold weekly or monthly step contests for individuals and/or teams.
- Get Informed – encourage employees to use the resources of their health insurance, including preventive care, online health tools, wellness programs and discounts on health-related products and services.
Becoming a health leader can help small businesses thrive in three ways:
- It makes it easier to attract and retain good employees. Employees with health insurance and those who believe the business is dedicated to the community are happier and more likely to stay.
- It makes employees more productive. Virtually everything that a small company does to become a health leader will help improve employees’ overall health. Healthier employees miss less work and are more productive.
- It establishes a top-notch reputation for the small business in the business community and with the general public. Most small businesses sell their products and services locally and some globally. Whether selling to other businesses or to consumers, having a good reputation can influence customers to buy and remain loyal.
Being a health leader enables a small company to project a bigger appearance and gain equal footing in the community with its larger competitors, and provides a competitive edge over rivals its own size.
— Scott Flannery is CEO of UnitedHealthcare of North Texas