How to Honor Black History Month by Supporting Employee Health

How to Honor Black History Month by Supporting Employee Health

Black men and women have experienced a lack of access and resources throughout many generations. Unfortunately, their healthcare has been no exception. That’s why the theme for Black History Month, Black Health and Wellness is both timely and crucial to bring much-needed awareness and change for the black community. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 47.6% of employees in the service industry are people of color – claiming nearly half of the service labor force. These valuable professionals deserve quality, meaningful support. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of four ways to support your black employees’ health and well-being, starting today. 

Understand workplace concerns

Stress rates in America are seeing record highs. Many of the causes of this strife connect deeply to the lives, families, and communities of your black employees. The truth is that many black individuals carry an additional emotional burden that their colleagues do not experience. 

Offering a robust Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a start. However, you can also connect employees to resources like the Loveland Foundation, which offers free counseling to black women and girls. This can demonstrate that you are aware of the challenges that may impact their mental wellness.

Prepare for discussion

Take the time to educate yourself about critical issues impacting the black community. It is essential to create space for dialogue where your employees feel comfortable being honest about their well-being needs

This can take the form of an anonymous survey or open group conversation. Still, ideally, these conversations would take place on an ongoing basis through various means. Each employee should share their perspective in a way they feel supported. Forbes offers 11 recommendations about communicating with team members in ways they feel most comfortable.  

Invest in quality benefits

American healthcare has often underserved the African American community. This widespread disparity of access to quality healthcare negatively impacts outcomes for many BIPOC individuals, and the pandemic has exacerbated these issues. 

When examining your insurance partnership, take care to review policies and conditions that might put a portion of your workforce in a compromising or unfair position. You might also consider a pre-tax health savings benefit program to assist employees with unforeseen healthcare costs. 

Review company policies

Many businesses were eager to engage with the dialogue of support during the wake of racial unrest of 2020. Still, fewer companies took the knowledge gained from that period into action in the form of policy changes, additional resources, and other activities that benefit the well-being of black employees. Instead, many systems – including healthcare – have been structured to restrict black well-being. Your voice on behalf of your employees will join others advocating for systemic change across all industries.

Employees who feel supported by their businesses are happier, more productive, and are more likely to remain with a company that has demonstrated care for their well-being. While Black History Month is often a time for reflection, it is also a time for action on behalf of the employees you value and the families they work to support.