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The role of the C-suite in employee healthcare

This Harvard Business Review report examines how CEOs, CFOs, and CHROs in the C-suite influence health benefits and employee healthcare.

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With their healthcare bill exploding year over year, CEOs, CFOs, and CHROs alike are making employee healthcare their business. From setting the strategy, to obsessing over the data, to evaluating new tools–executives are paying attention, realizing that their healthcare investment can contribute as much to earnings per share as any other corporate initiative.

In their latest report, the team at Harvard Business Review Analytic Services examines this enterprise shift by speaking to top executives at Cloudera, Patagonia, and Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

The Role of the CEO: Set the strategy from the top

In the report, readers meet Bruce Cozadd, co-founder and CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals. Accountable for his company’s overall strategy, Cozadd calls healthcare an investment, not a cost. “A cost is something you want to minimize. With an investment, you want to maximize the utility you get out of it,” says Cozadd. “We spend not because we have to, but because we want to achieve something with it.” As the CEO, he has seen firsthand how the C-suite’s attitude toward healthcare has a direct impact on ROI.

To be successful in this role, the study outlines four main questions for CEOs to consider:

  • Are you applying the same strategic rigor to your healthcare strategy as to other parts of your business?
  • Are you building and promoting a culture of health?
  • Does your healthcare strategy address upstream as well as downstream factors?
  • Is your healthcare investment a stated C-suite priority?

The Role of the CFO: Enforce data-driven decision making

Next, readers are introduced to Jim Frankola, CFO of Cloudera. Frankola relies on rigorous data analysis in every part of his job–employee healthcare isn’t an exception. “We’re fighting a rising tide of healthcare costs every year,” says Frankola. “We’re also competing against some very attractive, well-regarded companies. We balance that by delivering a very competitive benefit structure.” This balancing act is what makes actionable data an imperative for a CFO.

To be successful in this role, the study outlines four main questions for CFOs to consider:

  • Are you tracking metrics to inform and improve your healthcare strategy?
  • Are your metrics tied to corporate objectives?
  • Are you applying your metrics consistently and reliably across the organization?
  • Are you examining new strategies and approaches to help synthesize the data available to you?

The Role of the CHRO: Empower employees to navigate the system

And finally, readers hear from Dean Carter, head of shared services at Patagonia whose purview includes HR, finance, and legal and who was formerly the CHRO at Sears. While both Cloudera and Jazz Pharmaceuticals have implemented a workforce health management system (WHMS)–a platform that simplifies employee healthcare to help employees and their families better navigate their benefits–Carter focuses on creating a culture of health. At Patagonia, employees get a “9-80” work schedule which provides employees with 26 three-day weekends a year, affording them more time for their family and personal lives. “That’s had more impact on health and wellness than anything else we’ve done,” says Carter. From on-site child care, to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, to a range of disease management programs for diabetes and other conditions–Patagonia is focused on creating an environment in which life and work can be as integrated as possible.

To be successful in this role, the study outlines four main questions for CHROs to consider:

  • Are you embracing workforce health as a core aspect of your human capital strategy?
  • Are your employee health benefit processes geared to getting your employees healthy—not just reducing costs?
  • Are you implementing technology solutions to help your employees better navigate the system and get care quickly and with minimal hassle?
  • Are you holding your program accountable to metrics your business counterparts understand?

Download the full report today to learn more about the role of the C-suite in employee healthcare.

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