COVID-19 has put a global spotlight on social drivers of health. Vulnerable employees are more likely to experience the adverse health and economic effects of COVID-19 — and the pandemic has introduced new challenges for many employees who are now struggling to get their basic needs met. It’s more important than ever for employers to help address the social and economic needs of their entire workforce.
Social drivers of health (also known as social determinants of health) are the conditions in which people live, work, and play. For example, things like access to nutritious food, a place to live, and equitable health care are social drivers of health. These factors account for up to 40% of employee health outcomes — and have a direct impact on workforce health and productivity.1
You’re in a unique position to help address the social drivers of health affecting your employees — and make a positive impact on their health, job performance, and overall wellness.
Use reporting to gather insights
Anticipate and identify your employees’ potential social needs by looking into your demographic and utilization data to find out:
Offer and promote available resources
When employees are aware of what’s available, they’re more likely to engage — and take advantage of support that can make a meaningful difference in their lives.
Promote telehealth to help remove barriers to care
Managing chronic conditions and keeping up with preventive care is more important than ever. Telehealth can help alleviate some of the challenges employees face in staying on top of their health care needs by:
Support working parents with school-age children
Working parents are juggling a lot. Ask your employees with kids what kind of support they need most, and partner with stakeholders in your organization to figure out what you can quickly operationalize. Some ideas for how you can support working parents include:
Engage with your community
Get involved in community projects where your employees live and where your business is physically located. Identify the top counties or ZIP codes where your employees live, and target your charitable giving and philanthropy efforts to supporting resources in those communities. Corporate volunteerism also increases employee satisfaction and provides a personal sense of fulfillment — so, consider organizing a volunteer activity where employees can give back and support their community as a team.
Understanding social drivers of health allows you to see the bigger picture of your employees’ health — and take meaningful actions to help meet the social needs of your workforce. This can make a positive difference in overall workforce health and boost employee productivity and engagement — both during the pandemic and over the long term. For employers committed to creating a true culture of health, it’s clear that social drivers of health need to be a part of the conversation.
Find resources to support employees >
High-quality care at Kaiser Permanente >
COVID-19 and employee mental health — supporting your workforce >
Stress, anxiety, and isolation — how to support employee mental health during the coronavirus pandemic >
1“County Health Rankings Model,” University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, countyhealthrankings.org, accessed August 10, 2021.
2Kaiser Permanente Utility for Care Data Analysis and Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research, July 14, 2020.
Services covered under your health plan are provided and/or arranged by Kaiser Permanente health plans: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., in Northern and Southern California and Hawaii • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc., Nine Piedmont Center, 3495 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30305, 404-364-7000 • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., 2101 E. Jefferson St., Rockville, MD 20852 • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, 500 NE Multnomah St., Suite 100, Portland, OR 97232 • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington or Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, Inc., 1300 SW 27th St., Renton, WA 98057 • Self-insured plans are administered by Kaiser Permanente Insurance Company, One Kaiser Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612
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