If your business employees staff, how do you help them to protect their health (and your productivity levels)? Find out why offering healthcare packages can help.
Many companies today offer benefits packages of some form to their employees – from tax-free bikes for work through the government’s Green Transport initiative to free childcare at on-site creches for parents.
Health packages, common in the United States, are also becoming more frequent, and there is a good reason why businesses might want to implement them – profitability.
Staff sickness is expensive
Earlier this year, the Office for National Statistics revealed that in 2013 some 131 million days were lost to sickness absence in the UK, an enormous loss of productivity. And the most likely causes of people taking time off work were back and neck pain, minor illnesses such as bad colds, and stress or depression.
That means a cost to the economy estimated at some £14 billion annually, before taking into account the problem of ‘presenteeism’, where people came into work while still unwell and were unable to get as much done as they might have normally. Plus, of course, those with infectious illnesses then go on to spread germs to colleagues who have to go off sick themselves!
Under the Access To Work scheme employees who need special support or equipment are entitled to receive a government grant, which might pay for chairs that improve posture, for example, and hearing aids from HH or other suppliers. This may be complimented by action from employers as well.
Six reasons why you should think about healthcare
If you haven’t yet introduced healthcare packages for your staff, business writer Patrick Vernon shares six reasons why you should think about it.
1) Peace of mind
Healthy staff are happier staff. If employees are unwell, or concerned about what would happen to them or their family should they become seriously ill (say they have a history of cancer in the family, for instance) then this can cause stress and make them less content in their roles.
Knowing that there is a safety net in the form of a company health package will naturally take a weight off their minds and let them concentrate more fully on the job.
2) More productivity
It may sound a little ruthless, but simple maths dictates that fewer sick days equals a more productive workforce and more profits for the business.
Getting people who are unwell or injured back to health and back to work faster makes for an unarguable business case for health packages. Given that many people work on commission, the earlier they can get back on the job the better as far as they’re concerned too.
3) Job satisfaction
When they know that their company is looking out for their best interests, employees feel more valued and thus have greater job satisfaction. This should translate to better quality of work and lower staff turnover.
Another aspect to consider is that, when they have attractive benefits besides their salaries, people tend to stay loyal to a company, and will recommend it to friends looking for jobs, or to people needing its products and services. And offering a strong health package which could potentially cover families will make a business very appealing to prospective job applicants, helping them to pick the best people from the employment market.
A good health plan actually promotes healthy living. When you introduces a plan, you should fully brief staff on what is included, and any exemptions.
That way they will know that if, say, they smoke heavily or have an unhealthy diet, that they may be disqualified from certain benefits, and then go on to make the appropriate adjustments to their lifestyles. You are inspiring your people to help themselves.
A one-size-fits-all approach is never going to work with the diverse nature of Britain’s population and economy. So there is a wide variety of solutions and providers that you can choose from to ensure you get the right package for your staff.
Many health packages contain regular health check-ups, such as hearing or sight tests, which are proactive, identifying problems and fixing them before they become serious. That can be very cost-effective especially in an economy where the workforce is aging, as it is in the UK.
Think about offering healthcare packages
At the very least, if you own a business that employs staff, it’s worth considering healthcare packages and looking into your options. After all, the accumulated benefits of offering it to your employees certainly goes some way to mitigating the financial cost.Patrick Vernon