By 2020, 50 percent of the UK workforce will be made up of millennial employees. As generation Y’s presence in the business world grows, so does the expectation for employers to provide their members of staff with perks, incentives and benefits to make the workplace a more positive, healthy and appealing place to be. More and more employers are introducing employee health benefits and packages to attract the nation’s hardest workers.
While the trend has been US-lead, the Society for Human Resource Management predicts that an estimated 50 percent of private sector organisations in the US provide employees with health insurance, while two-thirds offer wellness programmes, the UK is swiftly catching up.
The case for making the workplace healthier is compelling, particularly when you consider that sickness days cost UK businesses £554 per employee which equates to an annual total figure of £15bn in 2015. Health benefits are one of the most attractive perks for both businesses and employees and are largely viewed by UK organisations as an inexpensive way to reward and engage the workforce. A commitment to employee wellbeing has been shown to pay dividends when it comes to productivity.
UK businesses are starting to take their employees’ wellbeing far more seriously, and these benefits should effectively be communicated within an employee benefits package. Some of the healthcare benefits which are currently offered by UK businesses include:
Private health insurance
Private health insurance is regularly provided by employers to attract prospective employees. As a taxable benefit, private health insurance covers the cost of private treatment for medical problems. However, it is up to the employer to decide the terms of this benefit, and which pre-existing conditions the insurance will cover. Private health insurance can be split into different categories, such as dental and optical, but won’t supplement an employees’ income should they require time off work for medical reasons.
Many organisations now implement health screening across their business, providing employees with regular health checks. Undertaking health assessments reduces risks to employees whilst raising awareness among the workforce and management teams; thereby enabling an organisation to improve its culture, awareness and understanding towards health issues. While health screening may not necessarily be considered a perk it remains an important aspect of maintaining an organisation’s health, particularly when it comes to assessing an employees’ fitness to work.
Promoting employee wellbeing and general fitness has been identified as key to maintaining productivity and overall employee satisfaction. These days many large organisations offer gym facilities on site, while other companies who don’t have that luxury commonly offer free gym memberships as part of their employee benefit package. This is particularly true in office-based organisations, where members of staff may spend their entire workday seated at a desk.
Employers should consider health benefits as part of their long term investment in an employee. There are many ways to promote employee health and wellbeing, and these incentives should be clearly defined within an employees’ benefit package. As vacancies for graduates and entry-level employees become increasingly competitive, employers are seeking ways to make their organisation stand out as an attractive and positive place of work. Health benefits are just one way of doing this.
Enrique Garcia qualified as a barrister in 2008 and is currently practicing as an employment law consultant and advocate with ELAS, advising companies from all across the UK on all HR/employment law matters faced by SME, national and international businesses.