By Bridging the Coverage Gap for Workers, B Corps Acknowledge the Value of Employees’ Mental and Physical Health
In the United States, access to health insurance has been tied to full-time employment since the 1940s. The result: gaps that mean many people — part-time workers, contract employees, those without work — go without coverage. Because U.S. employers aren’t required to offer insurance to part-time employees, many of these workers forgo even routine health care as they are less likely to be able to afford the price of coverage on their own — and are more likely to face financial consequences of future illness. And the COVID-19 pandemic created new health concerns, especially for employees who continued to work on-site.
While public and political momentum are growing for expanded access to health coverage through the federal government, companies continue to be the main source of insurance for many Americans. It comes at a cost — around $20,000 annually for a family of four — that businesses must incorporate into their operational costs when offering this benefit. In other countries, like Canada, businesses can offer health insurance as part of their benefits package, although most citizens are eligible for taxpayer-funded health coverage from the federal government.
For Certified B Corporations that include employees as stakeholders, providing health insurance is part of doing business better — and some go a step further by offering the benefit to all employees, including people who work part time. According to the B Impact Assessment, B Corps are 94% more likely to offer health care insurance to part-time employees than other companies. B Corps also have collaborated on B Healthy, a health insurance group option for B Corps that is overseen by B Corp Burnham Benefits.
Corey Kohn of Dojo4, a software, web, and mobile design business and B Corp in Boulder, Colorado, says the company realizes the importance of offering health insurance and other benefits to all of its employees — and acknowledges that it is able to do so in part because it’s a small company in the highly funded tech industry.
“We understand what a privilege that is and that it is much more prohibitive for other small, less funded companies,” she says. “Even for us, it’s a stretch, but we are able to prioritize supporting our employee-members in that way and feel it’s our responsibility to do so.”
Building Camaraderie and Resilience
At Dojo4, part-time workers were included when the cooperative began offering health insurance to all member-employees in 2019.
“We offer it to all of our employees and members, regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time, because everyone needs health insurance,” says Kohn of Dojo4, which has one part-time worker among its six employees. “Often those who work part-time do so because they have family obligations, which makes the importance of having health insurance even more impactful.”
Kohn says health insurance benefits the well-being of employees as well as the company. “It helps provide the security that creates a safe workplace environment,” she says. “It also lessens the economic and life condition disparities amongst the various employees/members, which makes for a more equitable and mutually supportive workplace.”
Dojo4 solidified its holistic support for workers and their families in its Family-Friendly Workplace Manifesto, which was first produced in 2015 but gained greater relevance in the last year.
“Having had this kind of approach in place for years seemed to make a big difference when the pandemic hit, and we were already used to integrating our work and family schedules and workspaces,” Kohn says. “It’s an important part of what’s made us resilient through difficult times.”
Walking the Talk for the Team
Transcend, The Fearless Company — a B Corp in Huntsville, Alabama — similarly included part-time employees when it began offering health insurance benefits to all workers at the start of this year.
“We have wanted to do this for some time, but were too small for our local insurance companies to serve us. When they changed to allow groups of two or more, we jumped on it for our full- and part-time staff,” says CEO and founder Laura Huckabee-Jennings. “Our employees have been thrilled to know that they can get health benefits through us.”
The B Corp has one half-time employee, five contractors, and three full-time employees who all are eligible for health insurance.
“Offering health insurance is a concrete way to demonstrate we care and allows us to walk the talk,” says Huckabee-Jennings, adding that the company pays 80% of individual premiums.
Supporting ‘Healthy Hearts and Heads’
B Corps outside the United States also offer health benefits that complement what their employees can obtain through public insurance options. Traction Guest, a software service company based in British Columbia, began offering health insurance to part-time workers when it gained B Corp Certification in September 2020.
“As a software company, we don’t have inventory or raw materials of value, so our greatest asset is our people,” says Dhupinder Thind, a compliance analyst at Traction Guest. “Making sure that every employee feels safe and healthy and able to be productive was a good fit for Traction Guest and aligns with our company value to ‘foster healthy hearts and heads.’”
That benefit was especially appreciated and relevant in the last year for the more than 100 team members at Traction Guest, she says.
“The healthier that people are the better they are able to function. Especially during challenging times like we experienced in 2020, this benefit offers the necessary support to prevent burnout,” Thind says. “Our work environment is positively impacted by this program as it reinforces a sense of equality, flexibility, and support.”
Within its standard benefits program, Traction Guest has increased benefit amounts available specifically for mental health resources. “We believe this is a critical, and often underfunded area, so we are happy to invest in these tools to help employees better support their mental wellness,” Thind says.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Traction Guest offered employees a work-from-home expense of $350 for their at-home work space needs, such as noise-reducing earphones or an ergonomic chair. The B Corp also offers flexible work hours for employees to support their personal needs and individual circumstances.
In addition to health insurance, Traction Guest offers health care spending accounts and healthy living accounts to support employees and provide greater flexibility in how they manage their well-being. Thind says Traction Guest also has developed a new parents program that allows eligible employees of a newborn or adopted child to have 12 weeks paid leave in addition to the standard parental leave programs offered in Canada.
Traction Guest uses employee feedback to update and shape its benefits, Thind says, which reinforces the transparent and collaborative B Corp work environment.
“Our team is happy to have this kind of support and it gives them more trust in Traction Guest as a company,” she says.
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