Some of the biggest killers and health concerns in the UK today – cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure – are hugely impacted by lifestyle factors. These are also the conditions that can have the biggest impact on an employee’s working life. For employers, the challenge is engaging the non-engaged. Encouraging those who do not already lead healthy lifestyles to connect, get involved, and make positive changes.
Debra Clark, Head of Specialist Consulting at Towergate Health & Protection, said: “Preaching to the converted and getting employees who are already interested in their health and wellbeing is not a difficult task for employers. The challenge is how to engage the non-engaged – the employees who are less invested in the support that employers offer. It’s crucial that employers look at how to do this when building their plans for the upcoming year if they really want to ensure all their staff are supported.”
Health and wellbeing support needs to keep up with lifestyle changes. In the last year or two, face-to-face GP access has reduced, working from home has increased, and obesity levels have continued to climb.
Support should adapt to these new circumstances - for example, offering access to virtual GP appointments, fast-track solutions to physical therapy for musculoskeletal conditions, and healthy eating/fitness apps.
Explaining health benefits to employees
Simple, accessible online Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) can help employees to understand their personal risk factors and the simple steps they can take to reduce their health risks. HRAs can also provide employers with a global view of their workforce risk, helping to shape the priorities of their health and wellbeing strategy.
Clark said: “For the younger generations it may be a matter of explaining that private medical insurance is not all about heart bypasses and hip replacements! Accessing support can be flexible too – via apps and hubs, it doesn’t have to include paper form-filling.”
Added extras to the core health and wellbeing offering may be invaluable in themselves. For example, an employee assistance programme – which is often embedded within other benefits - that offers counselling and legal counsel could be hugely beneficial for someone going through a divorce. The virtual GP service, which means a child can get seen by a doctor on the same day, could be of real benefit to a parent.
Clark concluded: “By doing some of the above, employers will help the non-engaged to become more engaged. For employees to value the health and wellbeing assistance they receive, both in monetary worth and in terms of support, they need to connect with the positive outcomes they can achieve. This will ensure maximum return on the investment in the employees’ eyes, and for the business, and that’s only going to become more important.”