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Employee health and wellbeing: for the many, not the few

By Jo Whittle
19 January 2018

Employee health and wellbeing is something that all organisations should be thinking about, yet according to recent research, only 8%¹ of workplaces currently have a standalone health and wellbeing strategy in place. And 35% of workers receive no benefits at all.²

Of course, many companies do offer benefits like private medical insurance, but often only for more senior members of staff, or those who’ve been with the company for a number of years – while other workers miss out.

With the average annual premium for private medical insurance reported to be £1,023³, perhaps it’s not surprising that many employers feel they simply can’t afford to offer this benefit to everyone. But perhaps the real question is, can you afford not to?

The real cost of benefits

Rather than just looking at the bottom line, it’s important to look at the wider picture – and the impact health and wellbeing benefits can have on your workforce. To start with, they’ll help you attract and retain staff, as well as ensuring your business looks competitive in the market place. After all, 54% of employees are looking for a new role in order to get better pay and benefits.⁴

But perhaps more importantly, they’ll help motivate and engage your employees, driving performance and ultimately profitability. Just 25% of UK employees feel actively engaged in their job.⁵ And the UK loses up to £70 billion⁶ in lost productivity every year, because of disengaged employees.

It’s also true that more than a quarter of employers⁷ have had workers off sick for long periods of time, while they wait for treatment or tests on the NHS. If offered treatment privately, it’s possible to get people back at their desks, fully recovered, much sooner.

Is it what employees want?

The simple answer to that is ‘yes’ – and that’s backed up by some compelling evidence. In one recent study, 49%⁸ of employees said they wanted their organisation to focus more on health and wellbeing. And in a different survey, an incredible 86% of employees said that a wellness programme has had a positive effect on their health.⁹

Getting the balance right

So how can you give your employees what they want, while still balancing the books? Perhaps the most cost-effective route is to invest in prevention rather than protection. That means educating all your employees on the best ways to stay fit, healthy and stress free, as well as giving them access to a range of health and wellbeing services that provide high value but keep the cost low. And these can be offered as a standalone option, or alongside your existing benefits package:

  • Limited benefit PMI plans (eg cancer only, diagnostics only, in-patient only, six week options)
  • Health cash plan
  • Dental insurance
  • Employee assistance programmes
  • Group life insurance (often referred to as death in service)
  • Health screening (including flu jabs)
  • Gym discounts
  • Private or virtual GP access
  • Retirement planning and financial education workshops.

But it’s not just about their health or their finances; it’s about helping you to provide the right support to your employees at the right time. Sometimes when you look after the physical and financial wellbeing of your workforce, their emotional wellbeing looks after itself. That’s why it’s worth taking the time to establish what your employees want – before putting together the most appropriate benefits package.



3 LaingBuisson Health Cover UK Market Report 13th edition, 2017






9 MetLife Employee Benefits Trends Survey 201

Jelf Employee Benefits and Jelf Mercer Marsh Benefits are trading names of Jelf Wellbeing Ltd (Reg No. 2647586), which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.  Registered Office: Hillside Court, Bowling Hill, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol BS37 6JX. Jelf Wellbeing Ltd is part of Jelf Group plc, which itself is part of the Marsh and McLennan group of companies.  Not all products and services offered are regulated by the FCA.  JIB299.12.17

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