What employers are missing in their workforce data
Employers are missing out on valuable healthcare information and cost-saving opportunities if they don’t analyze their data thoroughly, panelists at the annual Disability Management Employer Coalition digital conference said.
According to professionals from The Partners Group, an insurance company in Portland, Ore., many employers have access to three types of data: healthcare, absence and productivity. HR departments are typically tasked with collecting and analyzing this data, but rarely do they use all three together. But maximizing these findings can help employers better inform their benefit decisions, the panelists said.
“Most employers want to know how much they’re spending on healthcare, but they can learn so much more than that,” said Case Escher, managing partner of The Partners Group. “Very few [employers] use it to explore how health of the workforce is affecting productivity.”
Healthcare data can tell employers which chronic diseases are prevalent in their workplace, how much those individual diseases are costing them and whether employees have multiple, related diseases. While this data can certainly be used to help HR departments narrow down which wellness programs to adopt, combining this information with absence and productivity data can paint a fuller picture of the condition of your workforce.
“By comparing health data and absence, you can see if a health condition is causing an employee to miss more work than usual,” said Brycie Repphun, account executive at the Partners Group. “You can use this information to help better inform that person about the services available to them to help them be successful at work.”
Employers can also use their productivity data to help determine if individual employees, or an entire team, are struggling, Escher said. Since productivity is measured differently at every company, and in various positions, employers have to exercise their own judgement about how to interpret it, he said.
“Obviously, if it’s a sales position, and one of your top performers is out because of medical issues, or another personal reason, the productivity of that team is going to suffer,” Escher said. “And if that person is going to be out for a while, the data will likely show that the rest of the team is getting burned out faster to compensate for being understaffed.”
Since the majority of the nonessential workforce is working from home due to the pandemic, Repphun recommends that employers start looking at their data to see how employees are coping.
“Health conditions can definitely impact work performance, but we’re finding that this is happening because of the current work from home situation,” Repphun said. “People aren’t working in ideal conditions, and many have children learning at home as well.”
Escher said self-funded employers are better positioned to make use of their workforce data because they don’t have to go through multiple third-party providers to access all of it. But other employers can still benefit from the information if they’re willing to put in the time and effort to retrieve the reports. While employers can certainly survey their workforce to gauge how working remotely is affecting their productivity, Escher and Repphun said they can get a clear answer by looking at all three data points.
“There’s an indisputable link between health and productivity,” Escher said. “As an employer, you can take this information and use it to make smart decisions to help your employees continue to be successful.”