While it’s encouraging to see companies start to gravitate towards health equity for all, it’s time to get serious. The truth is, we still have a lot of work to do, and we don’t have any time to waste.
So as we look to the future, where should HR leaders focus their efforts to make health equity a reality at their organizations? Here’s where to start.
Set an intention
First on our list? Make a decision as a team (and an organization) that you’re going to prioritize health equity this year. If you don’t have an intention to solve the problem, you won’t solve it.
Thankfully, our heads are already in the right place:
So the vast majority of HR pros agree that the time is now. The day is here for us to make health equity a priority. Is your organization ready to join them?
Educate your own team first
When asked what role human resources and benefits professionals play in advancing health equity in the workplace, respondents called out education as a big theme:
But you can’t educate employees on the resources they need if you’re not up to speed yourself. So as you begin to have discussions around health equity, make sure you’re taking the time to train yourself and your team—both on a micro and macro level. Can you and your colleagues answer these questions?
- What is health equity as a concept? What’s happening in the national conversation around this topic? What are the most important trends and stats to know? (Great job — you’re already off on the right foot by reading this report!)
- Where are there inequities within your own organization? Which employees aren’t using your benefits package to its full potential? Who feels like they need more information about their benefits? Which employees don’t feel fully supported when it comes to healthcare?
Once you’re an expert, you can more effectively implement health equity best practices at your organization and reach the employees who need you the most.
Seek employee feedback
In that same vein, make sure you’re actually asking your employees how they feel about your healthcare plans, benefits resources and educational materials.
Where are they getting tripped up? Which benefits are most important to them? How would they ideally like to learn about their benefits? You won’t know what they need until you ask them.
It’s also important to identify where there are any gaps in your benefits package itself. Are there any resources that are missing from your existing offerings? Survey respondents told us they’d be most interested in better pay, mental health resources, dental coverage and more affordable care.
And even though HR pros have indicated that they’ve started to make a lot of these changes at their organization, it’s important to stay tuned in with your employees to determine whether your efforts are actually making an impact.
Earn executive buy-in
Even if your entire human resources function is committed to improving health equity at your organization, you simply can’t accomplish your goals in a vacuum. And HR pros agree:
Solving health equity might start with you and your department, by reviewing benefits packages, surveying employees, and analyzing data to see where there are gaps in equity. But you won’t get anywhere if you don’t have buy-in from the top down.
So after you’ve done your research and set an intention to make health equity a priority, build a strong business case to make sure your C-suite is on board, too.
Come prepared with all the hard facts: data on where there are imbalances in healthcare use and understanding in your organization, measurable action items for how you’ll address these problems, and what kind of budget you’ll need to make it happen.
Develop (and write down) your goals
Congrats! You got the green light from your C-suite and your health equity plans are a go. Now what?
Before you jump in, be sure to identify and write down quantifiable goals to help you steer your strategy and understand how successful you were when all is said and done. Because our research shows we still have some work to do here:
That’s great! But it also means there are still 2 in 5 employers who haven’t discussed or recorded any health equity goals, so don’t miss this important step.
Hire an expert (if you can)
As we’ve seen in this report, we all have a hand to play in making our healthcare offerings more equitable. But not many of us are experts at this point, and we don’t have much time to become one. Adding more to your plate simply isn’t going to be efficient, especially for something as important as this.
So when it comes to building and implementing a health equity strategy, turn to a real expert if you can. There are professionals out there whose sole job is to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, and they already have a wealth of knowledge about best practices, culturally competent communication, and more. If we want the job done right, we should be relying on these pros for their expertise instead of trying to figure it out ourselves.
So if you have budget, think about hiring a dedicated DEI/health equity manager. Some of you already have a leg up:
But even if you already have a DEI manager in place, there’s always room for improvement, as our employee survey respondents revealed:
1 in 4
employees aren’t confident that their leadership team is diverse
< 2 in 5
employees are certain that someone at their organization’s sole responsibility is to drive DEI initiatives
So make sure that if you have an expert in-house, they’re highly visible and available to your workforce. Employees should know that you’re working towards improving any gaps in healthcare access at your organization, and that there’s someone responsible for driving those goals forward.
Thank you for reading!
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