Almost half of employers have increased their focus on employee health and wellbeing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, new research shows.
According to research by Employee Benefits, which surveyed 200 HR decision-makers, 46% of organisations said they have boosted their employee health and wellbeing offerings in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Employee Benefits Healthcare research 2020 also revealed that 46% of organisations are confident about their employee health and wellbeing offerings, saying they had a comprehensive package that would support their staff through these difficult times.
Supporting physical health has become a challenge for employers
Despite the relatively positive outlook when it comes to employee health and wellbeing offerings, supporting employees’ physical health has become a challenge during the pandemic. That’s because many organisations are now supporting a largely dispersed, home-working employee base, with very few face-to-face interactions.
It is perhaps unsurprising then that employers have been making changes designed to better support physical health, such as signposting staff to available guidance and support (65%), increasing communications around the health and wellbeing benefits on offer at the organisation (62%), and communicating the health and wellbeing benefits on offer to staff (56%).
Other initiatives employers have undertaken to support their employees’ physical health include: producing information on how employees can remain healthy during lockdown (51%), introducing virtual GP services (22%), organising online fitness classes (17%), benefits with added extras, such as an employee assistance programmes with a virtual GP service (10%), and access to nutritional information (7%).
Many employers still don’t know the cost of healthcare benefits
Meanwhile, the same Employee Benefits research shows that a significant proportion of employers do not know how much it costs to provide healthcare benefits. Indeed, more than a third (38%) of respondents said they do not know how much providing healthcare is estimated to cost their organisation. This figure has decreased slightly since 2019, when it stood at 41%.
Of those employers who are aware of costs, most said their’ approximate healthcare spend has remained relatively consistent over the years. For example, this year, 15% stated that they spend less than 1% of payroll, while 27% spend 1-3%. This compares with 20% that spent less than 1% of payroll and 30% that spent 1-3% of payroll in 2013. This reality highlights how consistent the cost of such offerings has remained even over the last seven years.
In fact, reasonable cost continues to be the most important factor when it comes to organisations buying, or continuing to offer, benefits since this question was first posed in the survey back in 2006. This is hardly surprising right now given the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and the mounting pressure on organisations to reduce expenditure during this time.
Do you currently offer your employees health and wellbeing benefits? If not, what has been preventing you doing so? If it’s the perceived cost, do give us a call! The cost of such offerings is often a lot less than you might expect.
Claire Ginnelly is the Managing Director of Premier Choice Health and has been in the private medical insurance industry since 1991. All her experience has been gained working for large insurance companies managing the distribution of health insurance products through intermediaries. She has held senior positions within Standard Life Healthcare, as Head of Intermediary Sales, and Groupama Healthcare, as Head of Distribution.