Healthy employees benefit everyone

In these times of market uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make sure employees are engaged. Dr Katie Tryon looks at how employers can use benefits to keep their staff happy.

Over the past decade, employers have become increasingly sophisticated in their provision of health and wellbeing benefits and services to their workforces.

Organisations are now starting to look more closely at employee benefits to achieve efficiency and avoid duplication caused by the crossover between different products and services. Many now have multiple strands to their benefits programmes.

Typically, these benefits and services are provided independently of each other to ensure that the right products and providers are selected, but this can mean it is difficult to achieve efficiency in administration and integration in delivery.

As well as integration of health and wellness within a single programme, different providers can be successfully brought together to co-develop a solution that provides a seamless service to both the employee and employer.

Making benefits work harder for employers

Employers have historically provided benefits for their staff through private medical insurance, income protection and pensions. However, they are now looking to provide benefits that will work harder for them and help increase employee motivation and deliver improved performance and productivity.

quotemarksImproving and supporting good employee health is complex and requires an integrated programme providing the right interventions at the right time.”

As employers have developed a better understanding of what will make a real difference to the health and productivity of their workforces, one thing has become clear: a silo approach to health and wellness benefits is not the most effective model.

Improving and supporting good employee health is complex and requires an integrated programme providing the right interventions at the right time, as well as encouraging high levels of employee participation and engagement with preventative and wellness programmes.

For this reason, many employers are looking at integrated private medical insurance and wellness programme solutions that deliver the best and fastest treatment when staff are sick through the core private medical insurance benefit, but also drive high levels of employee participation in a wellness programme.

This engages the whole employee population in the product. Staff who are unhealthy have an integrated health and wellness solution to help them to return to a healthy state, those who are at risk of poor health are engaged in a wellness programme that helps them to reduce their health risks, and those that are healthy have an extensive range of health partner benefits to make it easier for them to maintain their good health.

Across the entire employee population, everyone is receiving value for money from the product.

Boosting business through health and wellness

Employers are increasingly realising the good business sense of providing health and wellbeing solutions in the workplace, whether it be by improving recruitment and retention, improving employee productivity and engagement or managing their overall healthcare spend.

With an ageing population, the retirement age rising and the increasing incidence of chronic diseases that are linked to lifestyle, it is becoming more critical than ever to ensure a healthy workforce. More than 130 million working days were lost last year to sickness absence, at an estimated cost to business of £32 billion.

The working environment plays a key role in shaping the health and wellbeing of staff, as most of their waking hours are spent at work.

quotemarksThe working environment plays a key role in shaping the health and wellbeing of staff, as most of their waking hours are spent at work.”

The business case is clear – health and wellbeing initiatives lead to a healthier and more engaged workforce and directly affect the bottom line. An engaged workforce has 18% higher productivity, 12% higher profitability and 12% higher customer advocacy.

While the majority of business leaders agree that employee engagement is critical to achieving business objectives, only 20% believe that current engagement initiatives are helping to drive business outcomes.

The top driver of employee engagement is when senior management demonstrate an interest in employee wellbeing, and three-quarters of employees who feel their employer cares about their health and wellbeing are more loyal to their organisation.

The key is encouraging healthy behaviour to keep employees well and preventing illness in the first place, rather than waiting to intervene until someone is ill, when things could potentially become more complex and costly on a number of different levels.

Feeling valued

Employers are also having to think smarter about making employees feel valued and well rewarded, especially at a time when salaries are often not increasing in line with inflation, or are frozen or even reduced. At a time of market uncertainty when many employees are being asked to do more in a less secure employment environment, organisations need to become more explicit about shared ambitions in order to engage employees.

As health and wellbeing is people’s number-one priority, investing in this makes employees feel truly valued.

That is why PruHealth has launched Britain’s Healthiest Company, to find and celebrate the country’s most outstanding organisations demonstrating best practice and innovative approaches to looking after the health and wellbeing of their staff and inspire others to follow suit.

Dr Katie Tryon is head of clinical vitality at health insurer PruHealth. The company’s Vitality wellness programme incorporates best-in-class health and wellness partners into one easily administered benefit.

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