Why Employers Should Offer Virtual Care to All Workers
April 27, 2021
First Stop Health
In 2020, 88% of full-time workers had access to healthcare benefits compared to 24% of part-time workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While it’s understandable employers would want to limit their expenses (workforce spending amounts to an average of 57% of total operating costs for S&P 500 companies), employers should consider broadening virtual healthcare offerings to include every employee, regardless of whether they work part-time, full-time or seasonally.
Every Kind of Worker Benefits from Virtual Care
While working individuals may avoid a major health event in a given year, any employee is likely to have a sore throat or infection requiring diagnosis and treatment, even if they only work for an employer for a short period of time. Forward-thinking employers understand that connecting every employee with quick, convenient access to care can resolve minor health issues before they get worse. Providing workers with treatment and education about their conditions can also stop illnesses from spreading across an entire workforce. Employees who seek out flexible and part-time work arrangements may do so primarily to maintain their mental health. Offering those employees access to virtual resources to ensure their well-being communicates that an employer values all employees’ contributions — even if they don’t put in 40 hours a week.
While the pandemic may have initially driven companies to furlough full-time workers in favor of temporary or part-time workers, many companies anticipate that changes in the workforce landscape will continue in the long-term. According to a recent survey from staffing company PeopleReady, 52% of companies have increased their use of temporary workers in the past year and 40% are planning to make temporary jobs a permanent part of their post-pandemic workforce model. While employers navigate through the next few years of uncertainty, temporary and seasonal workers will continue to be a vital resource for many companies’ operations. Even prior to the pandemic, major companies recognized the growing trend of part-time and flexible work options in lieu of the 40-hour work week and began extending benefits to those employees.
Employee Retention and Loyalty
Finding temporary and seasonal workers has become more competitive. National chains and retailers were surprised to find that even while so many individuals were out of work due to the pandemic, they still found themselves competing for a small segment of the workers to fill critical business needs in 2020. While some companies may be able to raise wages, others may struggle to attract and retain the employees they need. Offering a virtual care benefit could be a deciding factor for seasonal employees who have a wealth of job opportunities available in the current marketplace. Offering virtual care also impacts employee loyalty. A recent survey found that employees who feel that their employer-provided benefits actually have a positive impact on their lives are more than 40% more likely to declare themselves loyal to the company. Other research has shown that “caring” companies boost employee health and productivity.
Virtual Care: An Inexpensive Benefit with Significant Value
Employer-sponsored virtual care offers access to healthcare without commitment or high cost of a full employee benefits package, and brings significant value to every kind of worker. Some solutions offer virtual care at a reasonable per employee per month (PEPM) cost that won’t even approach the typical costs employee turnover can have. When employers consider the costs of avoiding workplace accidents (which increase proportionately with employee turnover), training new employees, overtime expenses due to worker shortages and impact on company morale, the cost of offering virtual care to all workers is minimal.
A small initial investment in the right virtual care program can improve the overall health and well-being of a workforce, increase productivity and morale, attract needed employees, ensure retention and differentiate companies from their competitors. While employers may think offering these programs to part-time workers would require complex administration, the right solutions will offer a plug-and-play service that is easy to set up and administer. Some solutions even offer customized employee awareness and engagement materials to ensure employees utilize and fully benefit from the program.