The international version of the HERO Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer© (International HERO Scorecard) helps employers learn about best practices that advance workplace health and well-being and determine the extent to which their programs incorporate these best practices. The International HERO Scorecard is intended for use in any country and benchmark data are provided for any country from which at least 20 responses have been collected.
Agustin de Estrada serves as Project Leader for Health and Benefits Programs for multinational clients at Mercer. He also conducts analysis of costs and utilization rates, supports benchmarking, and provides consultation around wellness programs, diversity, flexible benefits, and medical coverage for expatriates. Agustin has a master’s degree in business administration from Universidad de San Andres and graduated with a degree in economics from Universidad Catolica Argentina.
Employer interest in health and well-being (HWB) is emerging in Argentina as companies seek to gain competitive advantage over one another in a global economy, particularly for organizations in the technology sector. As employers benchmark themselves against the most successful high-tech companies, they’ve identified HWB services as one area of opportunity. In the case of large multinational organizations, employers with operations in other countries are seeking to extend the HWB services being offered to employees at other locations to their workforce based in Argentina. The International HERO Scorecard is useful to employers in Argentina because it is one of the only tools that provides insights on what employers around the world are doing to support employee HWB and can be used to assess country-level consistencies and differences.
In Argentina, the health care system is comprised of three sectors and each has a separate network of hospitals that vary in terms of their sophistication and quality. Health care for the general public sector is financed by taxes and supplies free hospital inpatient and outpatient care for approximately 50% of the population. Workers in trade unions are covered by social plans called Obras Sociales, which are funded by fixed fees that employers and employees are required to pay. If the mandatory contributions are insufficient to cover the cost of medical services, most of the companies pay this difference as a benefit for employees. Private sector services are also available as out-of-pocket expenditures for wealthier members of the population. Medical plans in Argentina provide a wide range of benefits including medical check-ups and vaccinations but benefits differ across plans. Employers often provide additional services outside of the plans such as employee assistance services, onsite medical clinics, nutrition, onsite fitness centers, nutrition services, and wellness activities such as mindfulness programs. In Argentina companies are mandated to provide onsite medical clinics if they have a certain number of employees but they typically address on-the-job injuries.
HERO Scorecard results for the 37 employers based in Argentina indicate 58% provide onsite medical clinics; 36% provide health advocacy services, and 31% provide legal or financial management assistance. Fewer employers say they provide employee assistance services (28%), chronic condition management (24%), or sponsor initiatives to support a psychologically healthy workforce (14%).
One of the largest opportunities for employers to improve their health and well-being offerings is to integrate employer-sponsored wellness activities with the health care services offered through the medical plan and the onsite clinic. Nearly three quarters (74%) of employers in Argentina say they are not integrating health and well-being programs across internal or external partners.
Another area of opportunity is the provision of employee assistance services, with only 29% of employers in Argentina indicating they offer them. Those that do provide employee assistance often focus on legal and financial advice and employees often do not participate because they are concerned about accessing these services through an employer-sponsored provider. There is less of a stigma associated with visiting a psychologist in Argentina than in other parts of the world and it is quite common for Argentines to visit a psychologist through the medical plan. Since mental health services are already covered by the medical plan, employers may view it as a duplicative service if they were to offer employee assistance services.
The majority of Argentine organizations (54%) completing the HERO Scorecard say they have no written strategic plan for health and well-being in their organization and of those that do, most focus on participation rates (88%) and employee satisfaction (75%) as measures of success. The HERO Scorecard can be a valuable tool for organizations that understand the value of producing a strategic plan and to help them identify measures predictive of success that also align with organizational values.
A majority of employer respondents in Argentina report having workplace policies that support a tobacco-free workplace (95%), healthy eating choices (70%), and work-life balance (70%). Policies that are less common are those that allow employees to take work time for physical activity (43%), support use of work time for stress management (35%) or promote responsible alcohol use or drug-free workplace (27%). A majority of workplaces responding to the HERO Scorecard report offering healthy eating choices in onsite cafeterias or vending machines (78%) and making safety a priority within the workplace (76%). Physical activity is also encouraged through onsite gyms or recreational spaces for 51% of employer respondents.
Slightly over half of organizations (51%) report their data management and evaluation activities are effective or very effective in contributing to the success of their health and well-being initiatives, but most organizations (62%) say they do not regularly share information on program performance with any stakeholders including senior leaders. The HERO Scorecard has the potential to be an effective tool to help employers understand the need for a more strategic and aligned approach that is supported by organizational leaders and evaluated to identify ongoing opportunities for quality improvement.