Christine Husbands, managing director of RedArc Nurses says: “The pressure is on for employers to differentiate themselves if they’re to stay ahead in a competitive marketplace. One way is to demonstrate how well they look after staff. Salary is no longer enough, as more employers recognise the importance of demonstrating they support wider health and wellbeing, others need to follow suit.
“Employee benefits have been delivering for years, but 2019 will be the year when offering them can no longer be a tick-box exercise. Holistic health and wellbeing is the future, and to make this work for companies we’ll see more in terms of early intervention, technology and support for wellness. ”
These are the three key areas that RedArc predicts employers will need to focus on in 2019:
- The year of the value add
Many employee benefits come with added value. Group Critical Illness, Group Life Assurance, Group Income Protection, Private Medical Insurance, etc are no longer just standalone benefits, and the added-value can be the difference between them being utilised or not.
At one time, value-added services were viewed as a nice-to-have, but now they are viewed as an essential part of the benefits they provide – giving complete protection, not just financial, and in so doing engender trust and loyalty for the employer too.
As such, the services that can be offered have seen a lot of development, they’re sophisticated and holistic. The range of value-added benefits now includes access to GP services, second medical opinions, oncology specialists, nurse-advice services, clinical assessments and access to specialist mental health support.
Services not only provide support for employees when they face ill health or bereavement, but also to help them stay healthy. Benefits are now also available that reward good health behaviours such as offering retail benefits and discounts.
As added-value services become more sophisticated, they need to be given serious consideration when deciding about core benefits.
- Technology with a human touch
Technology brings a new aspect to employee benefits, and we’ll see more of this throughout the coming months. The driver is to increase interactivity and engagement. We’ll see more development in apps and online resources that can help support a range of issues that employees face, from mental health to physical health. This will help employers engage with their staff more directly in a way that hasn’t been possible before.
Many tools are available that can assess physical or mental wellbeing, but unless effective solutions are offered following an assessment then these are useless and may even be viewed as dangerous.
When staff are unwell, unsure or vulnerable, they need personal support, reassurance and guidance. So it’s imperative that any technological intervention is supplemented with human intervention, be this online, by phone or face-to-face.
When technological support is truly tailored and personalised, then it’s powerful. When considering using technology to support their health and wellbeing benefits they mustn’t look at technology in isolation, but how it’s backed up with the human touch in the shape of personal support.
- Prevention & wellbeing
There’s an increasing focus on wellbeing, and an understanding of the benefits of early intervention. Of course we all understand the benefits of physical health screening – an early diagnosis leads to quicker treatment and better outcomes. RedArc has evidence from their own data how early intervention can stop mental health issues escalating.
Rather than look at these as optional add-ons, employers need to fully engage with the aspects of early-intervention and opportunity to improve wellness, within the employee benefits they provide, and encourage early utilisation. When these aspects are embedded in the proposition, they’ll see the most benefit.
Christine Husbands concludes: “On a daily basis our nurses see first-hand the difference they make to employees’ lives, and this reflects well on the employer. Employers are looking to differentiate themselves in a crowded and competitive marketplace, we help them engage directly with their employees and provide a valued service, and that makes a difference to their business.”