Addressing The Hidden Healthcare Costs in Your Workforce

Posted: Updated:

I see this issue pop up in the workplace in a thousand subtle ways. Maybe someone leaves early regularly to meet with their high schooler's principal. Maybe an employee is consistently late to work. Or increasing absenteeism. Or worse, presenteeism where your employee is physically at work, but not "mentally there" or very productive.

These can be signs that employees may be facing behavioral health issues such as depression, anxiety or substance use. Or that their spouse or child may be the one facing challenging times.

It’s not easy to identify behavioral health problems in the workforce. Many times even the employee’s closest family is unaware. Stigma and shame can keep employees from talking with their manager or with HR. It’s vital to help employees confront these issues if a business is going to protect its investment in staff, improve productivity and be a high-functioning, profitable enterprise.

Consider the facts:

It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that one in six workers is dealing with behavioral health issues such as depression, anxiety and stress, and that about one in 10 have a substance-use disorder of some type, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). That means that between 10 to 15% of Hoosier employees could currently need behavioral healthcare.

So, what can Indiana employers do to help?

Look at the real costs.

Looking at your insurance costs won’t give you a true picture of how behavioral health is impacting your bottom line.

To get a clearer picture of the financial downside, use “The Real Cost of Substance Use to Employers.” This free online calculator was developed by The National Safety Council and the national nonprofit Shatterproof in collaboration with the independent research institution NORC at the University of Chicago. This will give you specific information about the cost of substance use (including prescription drug misuse, alcohol misuse, opioid and heroin addiction as well as misuse of other illicit drugs and marijuana) in the workplace based on size of your employee base, industry and state. Visit shatterproof.org/workplace-cost-calculator to see what substance use is truly costing your company.

Find a behavioral-health partner.

Just as employers have the opportunity to visit a professional to help develop and implement a wellness plan, the same should be true for behavioral wellness. Most HR departments are not comfortable addressing substance-use or behavioral-health issues and are reluctant to bring up the topic. Likewise, employees are hesitant to reach out for help because of stigma and a fear of losing their co-workers’ respect—or even their jobs.

A good first step is to talk to your benefits broker or EAP provider. You may also want to work with a substance-use treatment facility in your area to provide education to your HR staff and options to your employees. With the opioid crisis in full swing, treatment centers of all types are popping up throughout Indiana. To find a reputable, nationally accredited treatment facility, go to the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) and use their addiction treatment provider directory at naatp.org.

Create a culture of acceptance.

Easier said than done. However, openly talking about behavioral-health issues and substance use is a great way to start a dialogue between employers and employees. Supporting a staff member’s behavioral health is not just about keeping a valuable asset, but also about sending a message across the organization about your values.  For information on how to talk about substance-use issues as well as find other valuable resources, visit Next Level Recovery Indiana at in.gov/recovery/know-the-o for facts, training, tools and resources.

Often employees are afraid to discuss a behavioral health issue they may be experiencing; therefore, their problems can spiral out of control. These issues may not only affect the performance of the individual employee but everyone in the organization.  Additionally, when employees return to work after having been treated for a medical issue, employers are often provided clear information on what accommodations need to be made to assist the employee with a successful transition.  It is often less clear on how to support someone who is recovering from a behavioral-health or substance-use disorder.

Often, managers and supervisors of people are not trained on how to identify employees at risk or how to have a conversation with someone about their behavioral health. Learning these skills, tackling any causes around work-related behavioral-health issues and developing a culture supportive of both physical and mental health well-being will not only boost employee engagement, it may save a life! From my perspective, that’s what we all should want for ourselves, our businesses and our state: a safe and healthy workforce.

Jeremy Watson is director of business programs at Fairbanks Treatment and Recovery Center.

  • Perspectives

    • Encourage New College Graduates to Explore Careers Locally

      Summertime is my favorite time of year, with all of the outdoor events, concerts and activities in and around Indianapolis. Summer is also a pivotal time of year for thousands of Indiana college graduates as they look forward to moving into the next phase of their adult lives. For many college graduates, the next step after graduation is starting a career. Many graduates from Indiana colleges and universities have also grown up in Indiana. Now they want a change. Perhaps the lure of...

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • (photo courtesy of Taylor University)

      Taylor University President to Resign

      The president of Taylor University is stepping down. The university's board of trustees says Paul Lowell Haines has resigned from the position and will leave the Upland campus August 15. A specific reason for Haines' resignation was not given, however the Board Chair Paige Cunningham noted the move was "neither solicited nor encouraged" by the board. Haines graduated from Taylor in 1975. He later held various positions at the university including vice president for...

    • Plans for the land-based casino were announced in November 2015.

      Hoosier Casino Parents Announce Major Merger

      The Nevada-based parents of several Indiana casinos have announced plans to merge. Eldorado Resorts Inc. (Nasdaq: ERI) says it will acquire the outstanding shares of Caesars Entertainment Corp. (Nasdaq: CZR) in a deal valued at more than $17 billion. Eldorado owns the Tropicana Evansville casino, while Caesars owns the Horseshoe casinos in Hammond and Harrison County, as well as Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville and Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson.

    • Franciscan Health Details Data Breach

      Mishawaka-based Franciscan Health is providing details of a data breach. The health system says an internal investigation found one of its employees accessed the protected health information of about 2,200 patients "without a business reason."  Franciscan says the vast majority of the affected medical records was limited to demographic information such as name, address, email address, date of birth, phone number, gender, race/ethnicity, the last four digits of...

    • Indy to Host National League of Cities Meeting

      Hundreds of Leading Mayors, Councilmembers from Across America Convene in Indianapolis for National League of Cities Meeting Indianapolis will host nearly 300 mayors, councilmembers and other local leaders from across the country for the National League of Cities 2019 Summer Board & Leadership Meeting.

    • (photo courtesy of the Indiana Attorney General's office)

      Hill Joins Multistate Crackdown on Robocalls

      Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill joined officials from the Federal Trade Commission today to announce a new initiative to crack down on illegal robocalls. "Operation Call it Quits" is a joint effort involving the FTC and more than two dozen federal, state and local agencies who have brought more than 90 actions targeting robocall operations throughout the country. The initiative also includes new information to help educate consumers about illegal robocalls and how to...