Changing expectations: flexible benefits are key for staff

Changing expectations: flexible benefits are key for staff

The past 18 months have brought healthcare and wellbeing to the forefront of the public conscience. The pandemic has forced people to think about thei

The past 18 months have brought healthcare and wellbeing to the forefront of the public conscience. The pandemic has forced people to think about their health in a much more proactive way, and as a result many have started to reconsider their healthcare plans, insurance, and the benefits they receive from their employers.

Not only that, but with the vast majority of the working population having very little face-to-face contact with their employer, staff have realised just how important it is that their benefits truly help them address their personal worries. Employers who don’t recognise this will lose out when it comes to productivity, retention and attracting new talent.

We caught up with  Susie Morris, Director of Trust Sales, Healix for her view.

 

Tangible benefits

As it stands, far too many people are dissatisfied with their current benefits. In a survey conducted by Censuswide, a quarter of respondents said that they do not think the perks offered to them by their employer are satisfactory, while another 15% revealed they have never received any perks from their current employer at all.

 

These employers are missing out on significant benefits. When staff feel cared for, happy and engaged, they are more productive. Plus, it goes without saying that healthier employees are less likely to call in sick or use their holiday time to cover illness. With less absence and presenteeism, companies will begin to see a real difference to their bottom line.

 

It follows that tailored healthcare benefits that home in on individual health concerns can increase employee engagement. A more personalised, considered approach to healthcare reinforces an employee’s personal relationship with the company they work for, leaving them feeling more engaged with the business and having a greater sense of pride in their performance.

 

Tailoring provision

 

That said, there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to benefits. What works for one employee might not for another, especially when it comes to diverse workforces. Even at a base level, women and men will have very different needs, so it’s important that employers find a flexible solution that can be tailored to each individual.

 

While private medical insurance (PMI) continues to play a part in relieving pressure on the NHS, there are also more bespoke and cost-effective options. A healthcare trust, for example, can provide all the same benefits as PMI while also giving provision for conditions that would not typically be covered by an insurance policy. This can make a big difference for staff.

A topical example is provision for long Covid. There is increasing evidence that a significant number of people will continue to suffer symptoms long after their initial illness, including debilitating fatigue and breathlessness. In addition to being personally distressing for the employee, these ailments will damage productivity levels and lead to an increase in absenteeism.

Benefits can also be tailored in other ways, such as a focus on women’s health, with policies that include cervical screenings, reproductive assistance, gynaecologist appointments and cover for laparoscopic surgeries to treat problems such as endometriosis.

Increasing provisions for mental health advice, such as through counselling and access to mental health support through hotlines and apps, also proves that the employer is adaptable and aware of what matters most to their staff.  After all, this last year has taken a toll on mental health. Recent research has suggested that one in five adults have experienced some form of mental health issue since the pandemic began (twice as many as pre-pandemic).

 

Next steps

 

Tailoring health cover to apply to different demographics will help to create a level of trust and sense of mutual care between the employer and employee. While PMI typically adopts a blanket, ‘off-the-rack’ approach to employee healthcare, a trust allows a business to control the costs much more easily while still ensuring employees are appropriately covered.

 

Personalised healthcare is becoming even more pertinent in a post-Covid world. As a result, providing tailored benefits is a great way for any business to boost productivity and employee satisfaction levels while fulfilling their duty of care for all staff.

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