Understanding and implementing the Affordable Care Act has dominated the national conversation. Yet, while this is occurring, business executives have the arduous task of making sense of the law and then making the tough decisions that can work for their company, their workforce and, in many cases, the employees' families.
Lost in the headlines, political grandstanding and conflicting implementation scenarios delivered by the experts is a strategic issue all executives should consider: what kind of company do I want to be? And then (from a tactical standpoint): how can I leverage health insurance to help me achieve this?
Legally Mandated for Large Companies
Health insurance is simply a benefit, just like any other benefit. It's expensive and now for the first time, it is a legally mandated, just like workers' compensation and unemployment compensation. As an organization, you must either provide insurance or send your employees to the health insurance exchanges to buy insurance on their own. Either way, there is a cost. If you're small, your company is exempt, for now.
Using It to Your Advantage
But for a moment, let's step back from the details to address an opportunity before you. Employees need health insurance. Many decisions in both seeking employment and remaining with an employer often come down to whether insurance is offered and its cost. Employers should look at health insurance as a powerful tool that they can leverage to recruit, retain and engage workers.
It is much more than simply another business cost. Dropping coverage or reducing employee hours to force them to go to the exchanges may yield short-term positive bottom line results, but is more likely to yield long-term negative consequences. Employees will go to work for someone else before shopping for their own health insurance coverage.
Building a Strategy, Culture
Employers should build a strategy around both wages and benefits. Know what makes sense for the business. Address the kind of work culture you want, around the brand that reflects who you are and who you want to be. Establish a clear philosophy around compensation and around employees that best reflects your brand. And remember, what impacts an employee often impacts the family.
Employers who take care of their employees, by either providing or even expanding coverage of those eligible for insurance, send a powerful message. They are betting that their employees will become fully engaged and loyal, resulting in increased employee retention, customer service and a corporate brand that draws job candidates like a powerful magnet. And all of this will result in increased sales and profits.
Rather than focusing on short-term savings by eliminating health insurance, these executives are wagering on their employees and the long-term health of their company by adding employees to the insurance rolls. This strategy focuses on nurturing their workforce and understanding that customer satisfaction requires happy, engaged employees.
It is the big picture approach. It's a smart move; it's strategic; and it makes good business sense. Employees are not going to stick around at a company that neither invests in them nor provides them affordable health insurance. The increased cost of health insurance coverage will provide a greater return on your investment.
Ask the Writers
We love to hear from our readers. If you have something you would like to ask our writers, please send us your questions.