How Employers Can Reduce Stress For Working Parents

June 13, 2017

First Stop Health

In recent years, the stress confronting employees has become a major concern for corporate leaders. When employers can reduce stress, their workforce is happier and healthier-- and this is especially true of working parents. Indeed, a Towers Watson report released last year reported that three-quarters of US employers view stress as their number one health and productivity concern.  

For businesses, finding ways to reduce workplace stress offers high rewards. If employers can reduce stress, they can enjoy improved employee productivity, greater employee retention, and reduced healthcare costs. 

Workers who are less stressed are more productive and happier. They accomplish more. At the same time, happier employees are far less likely to search for greener pastures, meaning employee retention increases.

Stress is also frequently cited as a significant factor in the cause and severity of numerous illnesses. Employers who successfully lower workplace stress improve the long-term health and productivity of their employees-- and since most large employers self-fund their health insurance plans, every dollar of health insurance claims eliminated through improved employee health goes straight to the bottom line.

In the modern workforce, one cohort of employees confronts particularly high stress: Dual-career working parents. The New York Times captured the stress faced by working couples when it reported on a 2015 Pew Research Study, writing:

“What hasn’t changed [as compared to earlier eras]: the difficulty of balancing it all. Working parents say they feel stressed, tired, rushed, short on quality time with their children, friends, partners, or hobbies.”

Since then, the stress levels throughout the nation have increased markedly, adding to the severity of the stress working parents confront. For working parents, there will always be some level of stress associated with the difficult balancing act inherent in their lives.  But benefits that help reduce stress, such as telemedicine, can reduce the extreme stress often associated with the unpredictable nighttime illnesses of young children.

No one can anticipate whether a child will wake up in the middle of the night with a stomach pain, a sore throat, a cough, an aching ear, or one of many other childhood illnesses. When it happens, working parents immediately confront a set of high stress circumstances:

First, the parents have to decide whether the illness is sufficiently severe to visit an expensive 24-hour emergency room (ER) or an urgent care center if one is open.  In that scenario, an already tired parent confronts a sleepless and costly night. In many cases, these nocturnal journeys are particularly frustrating; At the emergency room, they often discover that the time and high expense of this nighttime visit was unnecessary.

Alternatively, these same parents may decide to wait until the next morning to seek treatment for their sick child. Now, these parents must accommodate for an unplanned absence from work.

Telemedicine can help

Fortunately, telemedicine can play a valuable role in alleviating the most extreme aspects of these stresses. Working parents who use telemedicine can conveniently resolve a large portion of a child’s health issues at any time:

  •       In 65% or more of the cases, the First Stop Health doctor can diagnose and treat the child during the virtual consultation. If a prescription is required, the doctor can send it to a 24-hour pharmacy for immediate fulfillment.
  •       If a doctor’s office visit is required but not urgently, the First Stop Health doctor can assure anxious parents that an ER visit in the middle of the night is not necessary.
  •       Finally, in those cases where a First Stop Health doctor determines that a trip to the ER is required, parents know they are acting wisely and following top quality medical advice.

Nothing can magically make a sick child well. And unpredictable nighttime illnesses among young children are, by definition, impossible to anticipate.  But,a small amount of magic does take place when a working parent calls a doctor in the middle of the night and they are able to diagnose and treat the child.

Forward-looking employers are always searching for a way to improve things for their workforce. A telemedicine benefit can help reduce financial worries and stress about taking time off when an employee or a loved one is ill. A well-implemented and highly-used telemedicine benefit can impact as much as 50% of an employer’s population; helping reduce stress across the board and improving the health and wealth of their employees.

Originally published Jun 13, 2017 8:45:58 PM.