This post continues our ongoing series of articles on how COVID will impact employer healthcare costs. In today’s blog, we’ll discuss four ways that COVID will likely lead to increased costs for employers.
- As healthcare providers begin to reopen and quarantines are lifted, routine treatments will be significantly more expensive in a post-COVID world. During the COVID pandemic, hundreds of thousands of routine visits and procedures were delayed. As healthcare providers reopen, there will be a large surge in demand for simple procedures and medical imaging. Under normal circumstances, dedicated imaging centers and surgery centers would be the most cost-effective locations for individuals to receive the care they need. However, the large surge in demand will push many people into hospital settings to receive the testing and treatment they need. Unfortunately, in hospital settings, healthcare costs can double, triple, or even potential quadruple depending on the nature of the procedures.
- During COVID, access to prescriptions has impacted the healthcare outcomes of those with chronic conditions. Under normal circumstances, individuals on long-term maintenance medications typically have access to 30-day supplies. During the COVID outbreak, many individuals with pre-existing conditions felt uncomfortable leaving their homes to refill prescriptions, leading to lower adherence rates to prescription regimens. In fact, recent research indicates that as much as one third of Americans avoided receiving necessary care due to fear of contracting COVID. When individuals with chronic conditions aren’t connected to care, this can mean substantial costs being passed onto employers. Non-adhering diabetics can cost an extra $5,000 per year. And individuals who forego mental health medications can cost an extra $10,000-$15,000.
- Delays in treatments for those with chronic pain may lead to substantial treatment costs for opioid addictions. Every day, thousands of individuals undergo musculoskeletal treatments for elective procedures to reduce or eliminate chronic pain. However, due to COVID, all of those procedures were delayed. In non-COVID times, these individuals would be able to seek other forms of care, such as physical therapy, to help manage that pain while waiting for corrective surgery. However, during COVID individuals were also unable to access these treatment options. Many frustrated patients turned to their doctors for pain medication to help manage pain during surgery delays. These unfortunate circumstances may very well likely lead to future costs due to opioid dependency. Generally speaking, the ongoing opioid crisis costs the U.S. roughly $78.5 billion each year. And research estimates that opioid addiction costs $14,000 in direct claims costs per patient per year.
- Delayed preventative care creates future risks for more serious conditions and costly treatment plans. In many cases, preventative screenings and treatments are crucial for limiting the amount of critical care individuals need. During non-COVID times, cancer screenings were rising in frequency and are generally recommended by providers. In the case of most treatable cancers, such as breast cancer or colon cancer, early detection is the best strategy to limit complications and ensure positive patient outcomes. Unfortunately, during COVID-19, preventative care and screenings were halted for several months. These delays are likely to lead to substantially more serious diagnoses that are harder to treat and more expensive to provide care for.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis unfolding, most US employers were anticipating healthcare cost increases in the range of 4-7%, based on trends in 2018 and 2019. However, COVID-19 has drastically altered the healthcare space and thus dismantled most employers’ previous predictions. While some are now anticipating decreased healthcare costs for 2020, this does not mean good news for employers. In fact, the monumental impact COVID-19 has had on the healthcare space could mean employers will be facing unprecedented cost increases in 2021 and 2022. These impacts are something employers must be preparing for now, rather than later.
In this post, we’ll explore the major ways COVID-19 has impacted the healthcare landscape. We’ll delve into what this means for businesses in the near-term (the duration of 2020), as well as crucial action steps employers must be taking now to prepare their businesses for 2021 and beyond.
How has COVID impacted healthcare costs?
Due to the COVID crisis, by late March 2020, many American businesses had temporarily ceased operations and closed their physical offices. The immediate impact of the virus was a significant surge in the demand for hospital space in markets with significant virus spread, such as New York. However, the most significant shift across the country was a stark decline in elective care.
For the most part, over the past few months no procedures or surgeries deemed as “nonessential” have been conducted, in order to preserve hospital space and supplies for those with COVID. The shutdown of nonessential medical services and procedures lead to the furloughs of tens of thousands of healthcare workers.
As a result of all these challenges, in the second financial quarter, Americans are receiving substantially less care than anyone could have ever predicted. This impact will result in an unprecedented $140B to $375B decrease in care costs (and this figure includes the costs of COVID-19 treatments).
However, this short-term cost decrease will do little to offset substantial future increases. Models predict that in 2021 and 2022, the trend of rising healthcare costs will reset at a higher lever with a higher slope indefinitely. Employers must be planning and preparing for these changes now by working hand-in-hand with their benefits broker to enact effective cost-control strategies.
What’s the bottom-line?
As an employer, it’s important to realize that COVID-19 has substantially altered the extent to which employees have been able to receive the care they need. Although this shift will result in short-term healthcare cost decreases, the long-term impact is grim. Employees will be driven to more expensive care settings as healthcare becomes available again, resulting in substantial costs increases in 2021 and 2022. Employers must begin preparing for these costs now, by working proactively with their broker on impactful cost-control methods.
At Launchways, we know that what makes us different is what
makes us strong and that our team members thrive when they can be and share
their full, authentic selves at work. Supporting and encouraging each of our
team members as whole people, not just as productive employees, is one of our
top priorities and fundamental values. We think it’s not just the right thing
to do, but also the best way of creating a positive work environment and a
So what does living this principle look like at Launchways,
and what effects does it have on our work? Here are some of the key points I’ll
- The reasons behind our approach and how it fuels our creativity
- Authentic communication between Launchways employees
- Work styles as unique as our team members
Why We Value the Individual at Launchways
Many companies are talking about diversity and inclusion
nowadays and language about inclusion is making its way into more business’
value statements and employee handbooks. But how many employers put these words
into action and do everything they can to support each employee and what makes
At Launchways, we understand the struggles that companies
face tackling D&I and building a thriving, productive team. We’ve seen first-hand
what works and what doesn’t. We know that divisions and conformity are toxic to
a company’s culture and that businesses do better when they make sure that
every single employee feels comfortable to be themselves without fear of being
judged or penalized. We know that helping your employees succeed is the best
way to make your business succeed, and that means supporting their growth and
fulfillment in all aspects of their lives and all facets of their
Now, we know that saying we want all of our employees to
feel comfortable and encouraged to be their 100% authentic selves may sound cliché.
But living this value every day and in every aspect of our business makes an enormous
difference for our team members, our culture, our clients, and our bottom-line.
Communication is clear, morale is high, and we all work together to build up
ourselves, each other, and Launchways.
From an employer perspective, this approach makes good
business sense. Having diverse voices at the table is a surefire way to develop
more successful strategies and initiatives. Studies show that greater gender
and racial diversity leads to increased
profitability and value creation. But to see the business results of
your gender, racial, sexual, and culturally diverse team, you have to create a
safe space where every employee is free to be and express themselves. When
people are comfortable being themselves, they bring their whole selves to work
and share their unique perspectives that can result in innovative solutions.
And bringing your whole self to work doesn’t just increase
your value as an employee: it also results in a positive workplace and culture
that is as vibrant as its members. Who wants to work somewhere that you can’t
be yourself? A culture of lived openness invites the human back into business.
We can genuinely communicate and build richer, more valuable connections with
each other and with our partners and clients. At Launchways, our dedication to
openness and authenticity is what makes our jobs so meaningful and makes going
into work every day worthwhile and enjoyable.
How Launchways Encourages Employees to Share Their Authentic Selves
Simply put: just saying that you value something won’t make
it a reality at your business. That is why at Launchways, we have taken
concrete steps to shape our practices and policies around the value of making
our employees feel comfortable sharing their authentic selves.
Communication is the key to encouraging our team members to
share their authentic selves at work. After all, communication is how we
express ourselves and our perspectives and if an employer does not support open
and individualized communication, they won’t be able to foster a truly
At Launchways, we go out of our way to acknowledge and
encourage different communication styles. Our team members value intent rather
than presentation, which prevents plenty of common office misunderstanding and
interpersonal drama. If someone tells it like it is, we acknowledge and support
that without taking it as a personal attack. And if someone has a hard time
voicing their opinions, we recognize that as well and try to amplify their
voice and pick up on the messages they are sending. Now, there are still
standards regarding acceptable and unacceptable behavior, but we work hard to
acknowledge a wide range of communication styles.
This philosophy goes hand-in-hand with another of our core values,
candid. We don’t just believe in personalized communication, we also
support open and honest communication and feedback: being candid. But we also
stand for keeping the humanity and feelings of our coworkers in mind, being
thoughtfully honest rather than brutally honest and always speaking from a
place of trust.
It’s just as important to us that our team members are
comfortable sharing their needs and struggles. We want to know the difficulties
that our employees are facing and make every reasonable accommodation possible.
We understand that our team members will be more productive if they are
comfortable speaking up when they need help personally or professionally. We
don’t want people blustering and covering up the fact that they are having
difficulty on a project: we want them to step up and get the resources they
need to get the job done. So we always encourage our team members to be
comfortable telling their managers when they are going through a tough time,
having a family emergency, or need additional help/support in the office or
outside of it.
Work Styles as Unique as Our Team Members
At Launchways, we have implemented two main principles
regarding our work that help our team members thrive as their authentic selves.
The first is that we get to work how we feel most
productive. We have an enormous amount of flexibility regarding when, where,
and how we work. While it’s important to have face-to-face interactions and
meetings, we have flexibility determining our daily work hours so long as we’re
getting the job done. And we can work from home when necessary: whether it’s because
our kids are sick or because we just need to take a break from the office chatter
to be our most productive selves.
The second principle is that we get to work on what most
interests us. Launchways provides our team members the opportunity to pursue interests
and passions. That means that if any of us has an idea for a project or
initiative that we care about and think will contribute to the Launchways
mission, we get the space and resources we need to make it a reality. You’d be
surprised how many game-changing strategies develop when all team members are
free to exercise their creativity.
At Launchways, our workplace environment, culture, and
communication styles are all designed to allow us to share 100% of our true,
authentic selves. This freedom has an impactful ripple-effect throughout all
aspects of life and work at Launchways and makes us a better, more successful
company. As we’ve explored, for us, the dedication to supporting employees’
whole selves means:
- Our team members can grow and succeed as individuals, which helps our team and company succeed in turn
- Employees share their unique perspectives, generating diverse conversations and innovative solutions
- Everyone can communicate in their own way without causing misunderstandings
- We can be open about our challenges and get the support we need
- We work how we want, on what we’re passionate about
We think that our way of doing things is pretty great. We go
into work every day to collaborate with our friends and fellow humans, forging
deeper connections and producing unique solutions that we get to own as ours.
If you’re interested in joining the Launchways team, view
our current openings here.
At Launchways, we believe in doing something radical in the
business world: telling the truth. We have seen clients succeed and fail based
on their ability to foster a vibrant company culture and engage their people
power. And we have found that honesty, transparency, and respect are the keys
to positive business outcomes.
We have taken this experience and ingrained it into every
part of our business. Our people-powered approach to HR and benefits requires
deep honesty and respect between our team members, with our clients, and
between our advisors and our clients’ employees.
So, one of our fundamental core values is being thoughtfully
candid. We think we’ve hit upon something special with this value and the way
we live it in our day-to-day work. Here’s what we have to say about being
- What it means to be thoughtfully candid
- Why we value thoughtful candidness
- How being thoughtfully candid helps us be better
What Does it Mean
to Be Thoughtfully Candid?
What does it mean to be thoughtfully candid? Well, you can
break it down into its two parts: candidness and thoughtfulness. Being candid
boils down to honesty and transparency while being thoughtful encompasses
empathy and respect. Let’s take a look at each part:
The principle of candidness is simple enough: just be
honest. But putting it into practice is a lot more complicated because it goes
against what many of us may have been taught.
That’s because we tend to think that honesty is, in some
way, bad. The truth hurts. If you don’t have anything nice to say,
don’t say anything at all. Ignorance is bliss.
But what we’re really saying is that we don’t trust the
other person to handle our honest opinions. The misconception is that it’s
better to pretend that we agree with them or that they are doing a better job
than they really are just to spare their feelings or avoid conflict. But at the
end of the day, this simply isn’t a good way of doing business.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should be outright
rude or mean. And by being thoughtful, we can make sure that the truth doesn’t
hurt. But, even without being thoughtful, being candid is still the best
Take this example: imagine you get called into your
manager’s office tomorrow. You walk in expecting praise for your work. After
all, they told you how well you were doing when you asked them only last week.
But instead, they tell you that you are being fired because of your poor
performance. Were they doing you a favor by sparing your feelings until your performance
became a serious issue? Or would it have been better for them to come to you as
soon as there was an issue so that you could improve or address underlying
What does candidness look like at work? The key to
candidness is giving and receiving truly honest feedback and opinions without
taking them personally or trying to spare (or hurt) coworkers’ feelings. It
means giving your honest opinion in all cases, knowing that people will respect
it as such and will respond with equal honesty.
With absolute candidness, there’s no room for
passive-aggressive behavior, backstabbing, and office ‘drama’. In their place
are open communication, mutual respect, and radical problem-solving. But candor
is most effective when it is paired with an equal emphasis on thoughtfulness.
When you are being candid at work, it’s important to
remember the humanity and intentions of the people you are working with. And to
bring your humanity to bear when forming and sharing your opinions. For your
candid input to be accepted and to foster a productive, energetic workplace, it
has to come from a place of respect and empathy for your coworkers. If you want
them to succeed and be happy, and they know that to be true, then they will
welcome your honesty rather than seeing it as a threat.
So that’s the first aspect of thoughtfulness: empathy.
Knowing where coworkers are coming from when they share their opinions and
feedback, and thinking about their challenges and best interests when forming
your own. Empathy is the basis of mutual respect, and it is also the key to
developing strong, productive relationships with your coworkers.
But there’s more to being thoughtful than being empathetic.
Thoughtfulness also requires that you act intentionally and with an open mind.
We don’t just give our honest opinions: we give our considered opinions. We
think before we speak and try to make sure that our positions are both correct
and truly the honest reflection of what we believe in. This stops haste from
causing miscommunications and gives us even greater trust in what our coworkers
say to us.
We also try to keep as open a mind as possible. Because
everyone is being honest and operating with good intentions, there’s room for
real compromise, consensus, and understanding. There’s even room for people to
change their minds!
Why We Value
At Launchways, we know that sustainable business success is
built on the success of each employee. Helping our employees become the best,
most productive versions of themselves is just good business.
In our experience, people want to be challenged. They want
to grow and add to their value as an individual and as an employee. Which
sometimes means pushing them to improve and equipping them with the skills and
knowledge to become better employees.
When we come up with a business strategy or initiative, our
first step is to identify the challenges and issues that we are trying to
address. Without an honest evaluation of the status quo, we cannot develop an
effective strategy. And without honest review of the initiative’s progress,
success or failure are impossible to measure and progress is significantly
We believe that employee careers and personal growth should
be approached in the same way. An honest appraisal is also necessary for our
employees’ professional growth. It’s the only way that they can discover what
they need to work on and get the advice they need to effectively address any
issues or skill gaps.
Being candid allows our executives, managers, and team
members to talk to each other honestly, enabling valuable feedback on all
levels (we want our new hires to be just as candid with our CEO as our managers
are with their team members) and empowering our employees to encourage each
other to succeed. We believe that it is not just the morally correct way to
conduct our business but that it is also one of the main factors behind our
And we believe that thoughtfulness is just as important as
candidness. Being thoughtful in our interactions fosters deeper connections
between the people who make Launchways special. It allows us to trust that the
candid feedback and opinions coming from our coworkers come from the best of
intentions and are meant to help us grow as professionals and do our jobs as
effectively as possible. Mutual respect isn’t just an ideal: it is a reality of
life at Launchways.
Thoughtfully Candid Helps Us Be Better
As one of our core values, thoughtful candidness shapes just
about everything we do at Launchways. It makes us a stronger team and helps us
develop innovative solutions for our clients.
Being thoughtfully candid begins with our weekly roundups
every Monday morning. We start the meeting by giving genuine shout outs to
coworkers we think did an exceptional job the previous week. We then go around
and have each team member share their goals and projects for the week as well
as their roadblocks that they need help on.
These meetings allow us to celebrate each other and share
our projects and challenges. They set the tone of thoughtful candidness and set
up spin-off conversations throughout the week in which we share ideas to help
solve roadblocks and accomplish projects collaboratively.
Of course, being thoughtfully candid is also especially
important to our review and feedback process. Our culture of openness and
respectful honesty allows consistent feedback. That means that everyone knows
where they stand, reducing stress, increasing engagement, and creating consistent
opportunities for improvement.
There’s no simmering resentment or fear of secretly falling
down on the job. If there’s an issue with our performance, we find out right
away. But we’re just as quick to share strengths and successes, so we’ll also
know if we’re doing a good job and feel genuinely appreciated for it. And being
thoughtfully candid allows us to give more than qualitative feedback: it lets
us genuinely help each other succeed rather than focus on raw performance.
Honesty lets us get to the root causes of our challenges and successes.
Best of all, being thoughtfully candid lets us collaborate
more meaningfully. We can work together to solve not only our own challenges,
and those of our coworkers, but also develop better solutions for our clients.
We make realistic plans, execute them more effectively, and track our progress
to create the best possible outcomes. And our clients respect us for our honest
approach and open communication with their internal teams. These collaborations
make our work more meaningful and more successful.
Being thoughtfully candid is integral to how we do business
at Launchways. It is one of our five core values that guide our decisions and
culture. As we’ve laid out in this article, being thoughtfully candid means:
- Being honest at all times, but also having respect for coworkers and coming from a place of empathy and considered positions
- Open communications between coworkers, managers and team members, and leadership with employees
- Consistent feedback, personal and professional growth, deeper relationships, and productive collaboration
We think that our way of doing things makes our work more
enjoyable, meaningful, and productive. If joining a team based on thoughtfully
candid communication sounds interesting, check out our career page for current
I’ve been building, managing, and supporting strong,
functional teams for two decades, and while I get lots of great questions from
emerging leaders and HR professionals every day, so many of their concerns boil
down to two key questions:
- How can I center my team to make sure they’re
doing great work that’s consistently done our way, not just their
- How can I show off what my great team’s all
about in a way that builds enthusiasm in the public and aids in recruiting?
Believe it or not, those two questions are actually quite
closely connected. Even though one is an internal/operational concern and the
other is an external/marketing concern, they both have the same answer: an
organization aligned behind clearly articulated organizational values.
Your company’s identity is incredibly powerful. It dictates
the flow of talent, the volume of inbound business, and how your partners,
competitors, and the general public engage with your brand.
In this post I’ll explore:
- Why well-articulated values are so useful
- How corporate values should be structured and
- What a real-life example of strong guiding
values looks like
The Value in Values
Remember when you were in school and that one teacher spent
an entire week doing icebreakers and “getting to know you” games before they
dove into lessons? It might have seemed silly or pointless at the time, but
that educator was actually attempting to do something much bigger than
communicate facts – they were trying to turn a room of individuals with varying
degrees of comfort and familiarity with each other into a thriving, upbeat
That same teacher, even if they were fun and free-spirited,
probably seemed to have a tremendous zest for going over classroom rules and procedures
as well. You might’ve rolled your eyes at the time, but through an adult lens,
what they were doing was very purposeful: they were establishing expectations
and establishing the rigid, non-negotiable elements of the classroom culture.
So why all the education analogies? Well, frankly, teachers
are some of the smartest problem-solvers in the world when it comes to
generating buy-in and engagement, and that’s what your organization’s core values
are all about.
An organization’s values give them two-way benefit just as
those early-year classroom activities do. Both the teacher and the employer
gain a level of clearly articulated authority and identity that set the tone
for the work, while also humanizing the experience in a way that invites the employees,
to get involved and get excited.
Values Set the Tone
Your corporate values set the tone both for how your brand
interacts with the world around it and how individuals within the organization
interact with each other and outsiders. Businesses that get that right set
themselves up to build a great team and get a lot done. Businesses who lack
articulation or don’t meaningfully honor their values can’t maximize their
potential in the same way because they’re not establishing expectations fully
or giving the individual members of the team something to believe in that’s
bigger than themselves.
Great articulation means great engagement, and great
engagement means great work.
Crafting Your Company Values
Every organization, large or small, should have an
established set of values to guide the vision, dictate the tone of business,
and aid in meaningful business- and community-based goal setting. Generating
those values should be the collaborative responsibility of senior leadership.
HR, marketing, and representatives from other key teams or departments should
have a voice in the process, but the values must flow from and reflect
That doesn’t mean your values are all about “what the bosses
care about,” though. Those brainstorming sessions must be guided by a clear
understanding of how those values will connect to, motivate, and engage your
current employees, leading talent in your industry, and the community and world
Sticking to the Core
One of the most common mistakes organizations make when they
set about the work of articulating values is, well, articulating too many
values. A company’s values should represent the most relevant and overarching
aspects of their approach to work and their place in the world, not every
little thing they think is important.
When it comes to corporate values, three to five is the
ideal number, as it ensures you’re building an identity that’s supported by
multiple strong pillars that you can focus on and truly honor without so many
values that the message becomes diluted.
Values are Real, Not Aspirational
The other big mistake organizations make when they create
corporate values is that they try to give “the right answers” rather than
actually focusing on the ideas that are closest to their work and most relevant
to the uniqueness of their own workforce. That often leads to a lot of lofty
goals and minimal follow-through.
To work as part of an employee culture, talent attraction,
or marketing campaign and meaningfully support an organization, corporate
values must be real, must be honored, and must be rooted in the daily
challenges, triumphs, and guiding lights of what makes both day-to-day work and
“the work” on the whole special at that business. A lack of follow-through will
only undermine the potential gains of articulating values and working to
establish a culture in the first place.
Launchways’ Core Values
Now that I’ve laid out all that theory on why core values
are so important and what businesses need to do to get them right, let’s
transition to looking at a real-world example.
At Launchways, we recently established a new set of company
values to help flesh out our core identity and set the tone for our work moving
forward. Each value was carefully discussed and debated by our leadership team,
and the result was a powerful list that made the entire team feel great about
our present and even more excited about our future.
Let’s explore Launchways’ five core values one at a time:
We are a resourceful organization. We take initiative, we
own the challenges that are set before us, and we embrace the work of finding
solutions, no matter what it takes.
We are a driven enterprise. We’re passionate about what we
do, and we strive to always go above-and-beyond for our clients and for each
We’re a disruptive business. We’re unafraid to do things
different, especially when we think it can yield better results. We’re
confident in our ability to improve the industry.
We’re a reflective and honest brand. We value constructive
conversation and believe that difference of opinion can make conversations and
We’re a community-minded team. We’re always looking for new
ways to support members of our Launchways community while also engaging with
the greater Chicago community.
Establishing core values is an extremely important process to
get right. A few key takeaways I’ve learned in the process include:
- Articulating and documenting your business’
values make it easier to establish a clear direction for your business
- Values should both set the tone for and reflect
your organization’s culture
- Values need to be real, not aspirational; values
that aren’t honored will undermine the process
- Businesses should stick to five or fewer core
values or principles to avoid diluting the message