Helping Employees Own Health and Wellness

By Jim Winterscheid, SVP-HR, Travel and Transport

Most businesses wrestle with their health care costs. Being an ESOP does not make us immune to this challenge.

Travel and Transport is a 1,400-person company with offices from Boston to Seattle. We have a self-insured health plan in which approximately two thirds of our employee owners participate. Our plan has run large deficits the past several years and, as a result, we are in the midst of making some major changes.

In 2019 we will move to a high deductible health plan, coupled with a health savings account for all insured employee owners. While this will present a savings for many of our employee owners, those who are high-consumers of medical care and pharma will face financial challenges.

We also are moving to a new wellness provider, and are looking to maximize the investment on our wellness investment for our employee owners and the business.

To that end, we are working to build a wellness program that will provide premium discounts to employee owners who complete certain registrations, wellness assessments, and biometric screenings. We will look to add additional discounts via wellness down the road, but want a measurement that everyone will be able to achieve the first year.

For all these changes to be effective, we must educate and communicate with our employee owners. Being an ESOP, we feel these efforts have a tremendous advantage over businesses that are conventionally owned, In short, our employee owners are used to thinking of the big picture. They understand our business model and the factors that cause our stock valuation to go up or down.

As owners, they understand the need to efficiently manage costs. They also understand that culture is not something we throw out the window when times change.

And times do change. Health care has become increasingly expensive for all businesses. But not all businesses have employee owners who are invested in the outcome of the total enterprise, and will—we hope—be better suited to seeing the big picture of how health and wellness affect everyone.

Jim Winterscheid and Chris Shimokawa, Travel and Transport‘s Director of HR, will present a session on this topic at The ESOP Association’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Register today to learn more about the challenges they face and their strategy for incorporating wellness into the fabric of their employee owned company.

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