Twenty-one per cent of employers, or one in five, are missing a trick by not supporting the prevention of ill-health in their staff, according to research undertaken on behalf of GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector.
Employers who do provide health and wellbeing support to help prevent employees becoming ill, stated that they find flexible working initiatives (28%), emotional support such as counselling (17%), and initiatives to help manage stress and mental health (16%) the most helpful. Following these, mental health first aiders, Private Medical Insurance, and Employee Assistance Programmes were also considered useful.
However, there is so much more support available which employers are potentially missing out on. Prevention and early intervention support has become increasingly varied and comprehensive – particularly as COVID-19 has hastened developments in this area – and employers need to be aware of all that is available to them. Diagnostics, health screening, access to GPs, rehabilitation, apps to improve health behaviours, lifestyle advice on nutrition, sleep, health and fitness are all readily available within employee benefits and can be excellent ways to prevent serious conditions developing.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said: ‘When employers offer employee benefits that have preventative support built in, they’re demonstrating that they care about their staff’s long-term health and wellbeing. It also means that their employees will have the best chance of being able to access whatever new supportive developments arise in the future.’
Ten years ago it was only some of the very large corporates who were able to offer their staff access to a GP, either in person or over the phone. Today, arranging a virtual GP appointment is not out of the ordinary – it’s included within many benefits, and is an important element of early intervention and prevention.
Many employers offer some support for health and wellbeing. Some may think this just means offering access to treatment, but it also needs to include access to prevention too. Offering fast-track treatment is just one aspect of looking after staff, but the best support needs to start before treatment is needed, which can possibly mean no treatment – or indeed absence from work – needs to take place. If employers really want to offer the best support to their workforce, it’s vital that health and wellbeing benefits include support for prevention and early intervention too.
Moxham concluded: ‘Employers who do not offer a comprehensive range of preventative support, should really be asking themselves why not, as they are now very much in the minority and may struggle to compete on the recruitment front with others that take a much more comprehensive approach to ill-health prevention in their companies.’