Tackling key workplace health issues webinar series 

Whether you are at the start of your journey, or looking to reinvent your wellbeing strategy, this series of webinar recordings is intended to provide unique insights and tangible next steps by sharing real examples of how we are supporting our clients to either define or evolve their health and wellbeing strategy.

1. The rising cost of health

Rising healthcare costs are hitting businesses hard across the board. Employee health is being undermined by a toxic combination of factors, including unprecedented strain on the post-Covid NHS and delays in treatment, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and money worries. As a consequence, an estimated 55% of employees are at risk of developing health conditions - in many cases preventable – that undermine their productivity and wellbeing.

At the same time, PMI renewal premiums are skyrocketing by up to 40%, eating up employers’ healthcare budgets. That makes it harder to fund the proactive measures that could mitigate preventable problems such as mental health issues or musculo-skeletal conditions, thereby reducing ‘presenteeism’ and health insurance claims.

This webinar outlines how Mercer’s consultants have helped clients put stretched healthcare budgets to better use. Data-gathering is key to understanding what works and what doesn’t, streamlining resources and boosting employee engagement with preventative services.

2. Benefits that benefit all

The old ‘one size fits all’ approach to employee benefits – a standard package of pension, medical insurance and life cover for qualifying employees, perhaps with a few optional extras bolted on – seems out of touch in this post-Covid environment. 

That traditional focus channels around 95% of benefits budget towards those who are actually ill. But by shifting the emphasis to preventative measures that support healthier, happier employees, businesses can reduce medical costs – and retain and attract valuable talent as well. 

However, it’s crucial to align benefits with the differing needs of your own diverse workforce. That means understanding what they want, through employee listening exercises that tune into those different groups. It also means taking a holistic view of your benefits provision to identify gaps, overlaps and outdated offerings, and redirecting investment accordingly. 

Equally important is supportive communication and education to ensure the whole workforce knows what’s available to help them, and how to access it digitally. A joined-up approach can be transformational.

3. Absence management 

British businesses are now wrestling with the highest levels of absenteeism for a decade, with stress the most significant reason for staying off work. Focusing on preventative benefits that promote wellness can mitigate it, but equally important is a holistic absence management policy and process that helps minimise the costs to the business in terms of day’s lost and medical expenditure. 

Absence is a complex business. Research shows that only a tiny percentage of absent days are directly medically related; the rest are influenced by a complex mix of biological, psychological and social factors. Importantly, though, the longer someone is off work, the less likely they are to return. That’s potentially both a personal and a business loss. 

There are several aspects to managing and minimising absenteeism, but crucial ones are fully trained line managers and HR managers to support employees, managing the absence process, and where possible trigger early intervention measures. Once again, though, collecting and understanding the data is the sensible place to start. 

4. How does your health and wellbeing strategy measure up?

Corporate strategies for employee health and wellbeing are evolving rapidly as employees’ needs change. There’s growing focus on ‘lifestyle contracts’ that address not just the physical but the mental, emotional and financial health of the whole workforce in all its diversity. 

But what does good look like in such a strategy? This final webinar of the series pulls together some key takeaways:

  • Declutter and streamline: Many businesses have embraced lots of high-profile benefits, but without considering what their specific workforce actually wants, or what’s in place already. A benefits audit highlights what’s available and where the gaps and overlaps are. 
  • Support diversity: Different groups of employees may have very different benefit priorities, so use a diversity and inclusion lens when asking for workforce input and feedback.
  • Follow the data: There are always opportunities to improve on your strategy, and that involves getting insights into the impact of different offerings in terms of return on investment
  • Embed employee resilience: By building wellbeing into the fabric of your corporate culture, you’re making the business more attractive to new talent and helping to future-proof it. 
Alison Byrne
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