Interview based on data from Q4 2019 International Benchmark Report
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 initiatives 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. This commentary is based on benchmark data from Chile and insights from Felipe Vidal Canga (a Mercer Marsh Beneficios consultant leading implementation of the HERO Scorecard in LAC1), Renato Cassinelli, MBA (LAC Managing Director for Mercer Marsh Beneficios) and Dr. Diego Ramirez (Health Management LAC Regional Leader at Mercer Marsh Benefits).
Employer interest in workforce health and well-being (HWB) is emerging in Chile as companies seek to gain competitive advantage in a global economy, boost employee productivity, and increase employee satisfaction and retention.1 Unemployment rates are low in Chile2 and competition for highly-skilled workers has fueled the provision of comprehensive health benefits and wellness programs. However, a 2018 MetLife study found that while 73% of employers in Chile offer wellness initiatives, only 32% offer prevention-oriented programs that help employees stay healthy.3 A profile of organizations completing the international version of the HERO Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer (International HERO Scorecard) confirms this finding.
International HERO Scorecard results for the 20 employers based in Chile indicate that 68% of them offer more health care coverage to their employees than their peers. However, the organizations completing the HERO Scorecard may not be representative of all employers in Chile. Organizations completing the scorecard tend to be larger (more than 1,500 employees), localized to one location (55%), and employ predominantly fulltime workers (95%), male employees (69%), and workers with an average age of 39 years. The dominant industries represented include manufacturing (32%), other services (14%), retail/wholesale/food services/hospitality/entertainment (14%). The majority of organizations (59%) focus on medical, pharmacy, behavioral health and/or occupational/non-occupational claims to assess the health of their workforce, while only 32% rely on data from biometric screenings or annual health check-ups and only 18% use health assessment questionnaires. The lack of health risk data makes it difficult for employers to be strategic or targeted in their approach to health improvement programs. While 55% of organizations report they have a referral and follow-up process in place for individuals whose biometric screening results are outside of the normal range, it is unclear what kinds of programs or resources are being offered to support health improvement. Only 14% of organizations offer targeted lifestyle behavior change programs, 23% offer programs designed to manage chronic conditions, and 23% offer programs to all individuals regardless of their health status. When these are offered, they are often provided within an on-site or near-site medical clinic but only 23% of organizations have these in place. Mental health resources are slightly more common with 32% of organizations offering an employee assistance program and the same number offering legal or financial management assistance. Employers appear to be aware of the limitations to their current approach as 78% of organizations report their programmatic approach is “not very” or “not at all” effective in promoting a healthier workforce.
Organizations in Chile appear to be focusing more on creating workplace environments that support employee health and well-being. Nearly half (45%) of organizations report that employee health and well-being is included in their organizational goals and value statements. A majority (89%) of organizations have at least one policy that promotes health and well-being, with the most popular related to promoting work-life balance (68%); supporting healthy eating choices (68%); and limiting tobacco use at work (59%). A slight majority of organizations (55%) also report having policies that support psychosocial or behavioral health, and that promote responsible alcohol use and/or a drug-free workplace. There is even stronger commitment to providing a safe physical work environment (91%), but this is likely due to compliance with government mandates. Healthy eating choices are reported to be available in a majority of organizations (59%) but few are providing opportunities for physical activity (36%) or stress management (27%) at the workplace.
One of the largest opportunities for employers to foster employee health and well-being is to increase leadership support. While 50% of organizations report a senior leader has authority to take action to achieve the organization’s health and well-being goals, less than a third of those submitting a HERO Scorecard report that leaders actively participate in programs (27%), serve as role models for prioritizing work-life balance (9%), recognize employees for their healthy actions (23%), or hold front-line managers accountable for supporting the health of their teams (23%).
Another area of opportunity is use of data to evaluate their efforts. While 68% of organizations report collecting some type of data to evaluate and manage the health and well-being initiative, the same number report they do not regularly share performance data with any of their senior leaders or stakeholders. The most common types of data captured include health care utilization and cost data (41%), occupational/non-occupational claims and absence data (32%), and employee morale and engagement (32%). Very few organizations collect process evaluation data such as participation (18%) or participant satisfaction (5%). Given one of the reasons Chilean employers invest in workforce health is because organizations recognize the link to employee productivity,4 it is surprising that only 5% track productivity or presenteeism data.
The HERO Scorecard is helping employers in Chile to become more aware of the need for a comprehensive approach to workforce health and well-being. They are interested in understanding what other companies are doing and the initial benchmark data can encourage more employers to adopt the recommended practices that are more prevalent in competing markets in the region, including Argentina and Brazil.5-6 There is a need for standardized information about what employers are doing in the region and the HERO Scorecard has been a useful way to do this on a global level.
- Latin America employee benefits trends study: Brazil, Chile, Mexico. 2015. https://benefittrends.metlife.com/media/1134/latin-america-employee-benefits-trends-study.pdf. Accessed November 4, 2019.
- Chile unemployment rate, 2009-2019. 2019. https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/chile/unemployment-rate. Accessed November 11, 2019.
- MetLife’s Chile employee benefit trends study. 2018. https://benefittrends.metlife.com/global-perspectives/chile/en/assets/files/Chile_Benefit_Trends_Study_2018-en.pdf. Accessed November 4, 2019.
- Vasquez Henriquez V. Exploring the health and productivity link in Chilean companies. National Wellness Organization. October 2, 2018. Updated May 7, 2019. https://www.nationalwellness.org/blogpost/921482/323517/Exploring-the-Health-and-Productivity-Link-in-nbsp-Chilean-nbsp-Companies. Accessed November 4, 2019.
- de Estrada A. HERO Scorecard international benchmark report: Focus on Argentina. HERO blog. April 16, 2019. https://hero-health.org/blog/hero-scorecard-international-benchmark-report-focus-on-argentina/. Accessed November 6, 2019.
- Grossmeier J. Health Scorecard international benchmark report: Focus on Brazil. HERO blog. May 14, 2019. https://hero-health.org/blog/hero-scorecard-international-benchmark-report-focus-on-brazil/. Accessed November 6, 2019.
 LAC = Latin American and the Caribbean