The CIPD has long recognised the role employee benefits can play in helping companies attract, recruit, engage and motivate employees.
Many businesses however shy away from providing benefits across the whole of a workforce because of a high perceived cost burden. Lower wage earners, as a consequence, are frequently overlooked.
It may come as little surprise therefore that, according to recent research, benefits provision is a cause of dissatisfaction for three-quarters of UK workers earning less than the national average wage.
If introduced strategically, benefits can deliver substantial returns on investment and needn’t break the bank. PMI Health Group Director Mike Blake reveals some of the options available for companies to help improve employee satisfaction and, in turn, the business performance.
Hybrid health schemes
Health cover is one of the most valued employee benefits, yet only a very small percentage of businesses provide private medical insurance (PMI) to all their employees. Budgetary constraints generally make health insurance provision for an entire workforce financially prohibitive but some insurers have taken an innovative approach to health cover in recent years.
Flexible hybrid schemes, offer a viable, inclusive alternatives, with some directly tackling the key causes of absence.
Westfield Health’s Hospital Treatment Insurance, for example, allows treatment for common surgical and medical procedures classed by the NHS as non-urgent that would previously have been cost prohibitive for many employers. BUPA’s Business Fit, meanwhile, specifically offers cover for two of the key contributors to ill-health – musculoskeletal and mental health
Unlike PMI, Group Life is typically made available to a greater number of employees. In the event of an employee death, the benefit pays a tax free lump sum to the employee’s family.
As these ‘Death in Service’ schemes experience low numbers of claims, they are relatively inexpensive with benefit levels set as multiples of the employees’ annual salary. The flexibility allows scheme costs to be set in line with company budgets.
Cash plans are low cost policies, costing from as little as 60p per employee per week, used to provide an easy way to pay for essential healthcare – when individuals are ill, and when they’re not.
Cash plans will pay individuals cash benefits for time spent in hospital, either as inpatient or for consultations, or for pre-defined treatments such as dental, optical, private consultations, physiotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathy.
Higher end cash plan benefits can play a key role in absence management, from high-tech scans and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, to access to wellbeing websites, online health risk assessments and discounts for gym memberships.
One on the most commonly claimed for treatments on cash plan – dental charges – can be covered in isolation under dental plans.
Group dental plans cover employees for both preventative and restorative dental treatments. They can also cover the cost of more serious and costly accidents and injuries.
Such plans have become all the more compelling in recent years as a cost-effective way of looking after your employee’s dental health, particularly with the number of NHS dentists on the wane, days lost to dental problems increasing and treatment costs being funded by the patient.
At an average of cost of around £10 per employee, per month, they are proving an increasing popular employee benefit. Furthermore, they encourage people to see the dentist regularly, leading to better dental health which is increasingly being linked to general health and wellbeing.
Employee Assistance Programmes
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) provide confidential advice, support and counselling to staff with personal or work-related issues.
Problems faced at work or at home can affect an employee’s performance during the day or even result in stress-related absence. EAPs can help tackle these problems.
Costs vary but at around just £15 per employee per year, they offer one of the most affordable benefits on the market. What’s more, they represent a company’s commitment to taking preventative and protective measures to reduce health risks in the workplace, in line with the Health & Safety at Work Act of 1974.
Discount and voucher schemes
Benefit providers are increasingly looking at giving client’s staff free access to online discounting websites, where employees can get instant discounts off everyday shopping from big brands and cash back on their purchases.
These voluntary benefit schemes, which employees can opt to sign up to, can go a long way to boosting morale and helping to forge a positive rapport with staff.