Evolving employee benefits to address employee stress and widening health protection gaps is key to employee wellbeing, according to Mercer Marsh Benefits 

  • 71% of employees in Asia think that their employers care for their health and well-being, but only 64% say the benefits they receive meet their needs.
  • More than two in five employees in Asia (44%) report feeling stressed in their everyday life.
  • Employers that offer a wider array of benefits see higher employee satisfaction, and nearly 70% of employees believe their employer would support them in a time of need. 

Asia, 10 May, 2023 – Leading health and benefits consultancy Mercer Marsh Benefits, a business of Marsh McLennan, today released its 2023 Health on Demand Report, which not only revealed that stress is a critical issue for employees in Asia, the protection gap is widening among low-paid workers, caregivers and women. 

The 2023 Health on Demand report surveyed over 17,500 employees in 16 markets across the globe, which includes more than 5,200 employees from Asia, about their health and well-being priorities, so that employers can better address their employees’ needs. In Asia, 44% of employees report feeling stressed in their everyday life. Within the region, Hong Kong employees (55%) felt the most stressed, while Indonesia employees (26%) were least stressed. Over half (55%) of the respondents in Asia cited work pressures as their top burnout factor, followed by poor leadership (39%) and job security (37%).

Addressing burnout starts with ensuring psychological safety in the workplace. Leading employers are tackling the underlying causes of workplace stress as part of a comprehensive and inclusive benefits strategy, such as reviewing job design and supervisor competencies, setting reasonable expectations, creating a culture of belonging and inclusive decision making, and offering benefits such as mental health treatment and even training to address mental health challenges. Improving employees’ mental health requires innovative benefits and solutions. In Asia, targeted services for youth mental health (46%), insurance or programs to reduce cost of mental health treatment (42%), as well as virtual counselling with a therapist (42%) will be helpful for them or their family. 

The report also affirms the positive correlation between offering more benefits and employee satisfaction. Results show that employees who receive 10 or more benefits are more likely to believe their employer cares about their health and well-being, are thriving in their current role and less likely to leave the employer, and are more confident they can afford the healthcare their family needs. While 71% of employees in Asia feel that their employers care about their health and well-being, only 64% say the benefits they receive meet their needs. HR and Risk Managers have to reassess the relevance and value of their benefits, and look for innovative ways to help their employees thrive and perform at their best.

Closing health and risk protection gaps

Approximately 76% of employees in Asia are caregivers for their family or friends, and caregiving benefits like work flexibility, leave and time-off, as well as subsidized caregiving benefits are most valued. The report, however, has revealed the protection gap among caregivers in the workforce, with 37% reporting that their medical expenses have caused financial hardship for them or their family, which is more than double that of non-caregivers (15%). The findings also suggest that majority of employees who take care of both children and aging parents do not receive caregiving benefits, with only 30% and 33% receiving them for children and adults respectively.   

The report has also brought to light the struggles faced by low-income employees or part-time workers in Asia, with almost half (49%) of them not given access to medical coverage through their employers. As a result, nearly one in three (31%) employees with below-median income are not confident that they can afford the necessary healthcare. Given the cost of living crisis, and lack of national health care plans in some countries in Asia, it is necessary to educate early entrants to the workplace, also known as Gen Z workers, women and young parents around financial planning to support their healthcare expenses.

Reproductive health benefits are also valued by many employees inAsia. 48% of employees in Asia find preventive cancer screenings helpful for them or their family but only 29% have access to this benefit. Other benefits like menopause support (21%), contraception access (22%) and fertility support (20%) are also lacking.

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Joan Collar, Asia and Pacific Regional Leader, Mercer Marsh Benefits said: “The Health on Demand report has uncovered significant gaps in the health and protection needs of our workforce in Asia. This is particularly true among groups such as low-paid workers, caregivers and women. Addressing healthcare inequality to reduce household out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure requires a multi-stakeholder approach in which employers play an important role. We urge employers to consider ‘Flipping the Benefits Pyramid’ – review the viability, applicability, accessibility of benefits across demographics and income levels, and evaluate how best to develop a more inclusive health and benefits strategy to support the whole workforce.” 

The ongoing macroeconomic, environmental and political crises have also affected employee’s overall well-being and work performance. The ‘pandemic’ continues to be the top concern for most employees in Asia, as opposed to ‘economic downturn’, which is most worrying for global respondents. “The findings remind us that health risks remain top of mind for employees in this region. While companies now focus on the recovery of their business in a post-pandemic world, it is equally important to invest in the People Risk aspects of their business, and not neglect the well-being of employees and their families. By offering comprehensive yet relevant benefits, employees will have the peace of mind to afford healthcare costs for themselves and their family, and still thrive at work and beyond,” Ms Collar added. 

About the 2023 Health on Demand Report

The 2023 Health on Demand Report was fielded in October-November 2022, and surveyed 17,531 employee respondents in 16 global markets about their priorities when it comes to health and well-being. The resulting report captures the voice of the employee to inform discussion around employee health and well-being needs, including the relationship between providing benefits and enabling employees to thrive, benefits that are suitable for the environment in which employees live, and benefits aligned with company purpose to support the wider health of society.

About Mercer Marsh Benefits

Mercer Marsh Benefits provides clients with one source for managing the costs, people risks, and complexities of employee benefits. The network is a combination of Mercer and Marsh experts working across more than 150 countries to develop local solutions drawn from global expertise.

About Marsh 

Marsh is the world’s leading insurance broker and risk advisor. With over 45,000 colleagues operating in 130 countries, Marsh serves commercial and individual clients with data-driven risk solutions and advisory services. Marsh is a business of Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With annual revenue over $20 billion, Marsh McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment through four market-leading businesses: Marsh, Guy Carpenter, Mercer and Oliver Wyman. For more information, visit marshmclennan.com, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Mercer 

Mercer believes in building brighter futures by redefining the world of work, reshaping retirement and investment outcomes, and unlocking real health and well-being. Mercer’s approximately 25,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in 130 countries. Mercer is a business of Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people, with 83,000 colleagues and annual revenue of approximately $20 billion. Through its market-leading businesses including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit mercer.com. Follow Mercer on LinkedIn and Twitter.