Wanted Dead or Alive: It’s About How We Treat Our Employees

Hal Rosenbluth, Chairman & CEO, New Ocean Health Solutions

Wanted Dead or Alive: It’s About How We Treat Our Employees

Face it, we’re all going to die; it’s just a matter of when. Given that fact, you’d think we’d do a lot better job to ensure that while we live, we do our best to enjoy life as healthy and happy individuals. So, do we? And equally important, do we help those we employ do the same?

Recently, when speaking at the Medicine X Conference at Stanford University, I asked the attendees to close their eyes and pray as they normally do, or if they don’t pray, what would they wish for. Years ago, when I was thinking of creating the business of clinics in pharmacies, I sent a camera crew out to a square in Philadelphia to ask 100 people the same question. In both cases I received an almost unanimous response: “I pray for the health and wellbeing of those I love.” Yet, little is done about fostering better health for our families and the companies we lead.

I’ve always believed that “you can’t delegate an emotion,” so frankly, wishing someone stays or gets well is a waste of time. So, what to do about it if you really care about your loved ones and those we lead. As CEOs, we’ve become warriors of wellness—we’ve learned that the key to productivity, decreased absenteeism and talent retention, is to ensure that our employees are happy, healthy and foster a culture of caring. Yet, most health and wellness programs on the market are overpriced, over-promised and under deliver leaving most CFOs and benefit executives feeling sticker shock and powerless over the rising cost of employee health benefits and the tools employed to affect them. The bottom line is that if claims costs are rising, it’s a sure bet that your employees aren’t improving their health. In fact, chances are that either your wellness program just doesn’t work or you haven’t found a way to communicate and convince employees of its benefits. Either way it’s a huge waste of money.

Your company can’t control what the marketplace offers, but it is your obligation as the leader of your company to ensure a healthy culture.  If the people we employ are our most precious asset, then why not protect them? Your folks spend most of their waking hours at work and their happiness, health and well-being is your responsibility as it not only affects your bottom line, it affects the families they go home to each night and return from each morning.

Healthcare costs are not declining and access to affordable, high quality care is waning. You can’t afford to be sick and you can’t afford not to know you are sick. Yet many executives continue to circle the drain with health and wellbeing offerings they either don’t believe in or stand behind. And when it comes to health and wellbeing and budgets, officer’s meetings are practically scripted. The CFO is frustrated and questions the cost of their current H&WB program and asks what the ROI is. The head of benefits defends the program with little to no data, and the data supplied becomes the focus of great debate with most officers stating they haven’t even heard about the program in the first place. The CEO becomes more and more agitated and frustrated and it becomes an agenda item for the next meeting.

Truth be told, it’s no one’s fault. Until now there simply hasn’t been a digitized health and wellbeing program that’s affordable and effective. One that people “want to use” is “easy to use” and is built not only for today, but for tomorrow, as well. So, while we all want to live, and want the best life for those we lead, it’s our imperative as CEOs to focus on those we employ and the effect their health has on their families and loved ones. No, we can’t delegate an emotion and state to our folks, “Thursday I want you to begin to care about your health and those that count on it,” but rather, give them the tools they need and show them you care about them; it’s the greatest gift a company can provide its people and those that love them.

About the Author

Hal Rosenbluth is chairman and CEO of New Ocean Health Solutions and author of The Customer Comes Second: Put Your People First and Watch ‘Em Kick Butt. Previously, Rosenbluth was a senior executive officer with Walgreen Co., where he acted as president of the company’s Health and Wellness division. Rosenbluth joined Walgreen Co. in 2007 when they acquired Take Care Health Systems (TCHS), a healthcare startup company he co-founded and partially funded. As part of this transition, Rosenbluth led TCHS to become the largest and most comprehensive provider of retail clinics and worksite health and wellness centers in the country.