How to meet the wellbeing needs of a disparate workforce

All-inclusive isn’t just about holidays! It should apply to business and benefits too. Pippa Andrews of VitalityHealth explains the advantages of being all-inclusive, to both you and your employees.

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Mar 29, 2019
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Physical and mental wellbeing matter to everyone, whatever their age, gender, race and, to a large extent, current state of health. The problem of inactivity is now a huge global issue, contributing to a significant upward trend of so-called non-communicable diseases (NCDs) - more commonly known as lifestyle related diseases. Add to that the fact that physical and mental wellbeing is interrelated and the only thing standing in the way of a totally inclusive wellbeing strategy must be cost. 

Even here though, there’s a potentially strong counter-argument, in terms of the cost of relevant benefits and services perhaps being outweighed by the impact of medical trend on insurance claims costs: the drivers of which include medical technology, new drugs, aging populations, patient demand and changes in physician treatment patterns. 

Underlying these drivers is the fact that upwards of 40% of individuals in many countries are failing to do even moderate activity, defined as just 150 minutes per week. Sedentary lifestyles, combined with problems such as being overweight, binge drinking, smoking and stress have all contributed to the rise in NCDs. 

All of this translates into annual - and somewhat unsustainable - double-digit medical trend increases facing healthcare ecosystems, including health insurers, reinsurers, captives and, consequently you - the employer. 

Estimates can vary dramatically from country to country, but most surveys conducted by brokers / consultants such as Aon, Mercer-Marsh and Willis Towers Watson have placed global medical trend at just under 10%. This is more than three times general inflation (i.e. the consumer price index), which means that healthcare costs are growing disproportionately to other costs within companies. 

Managing and mitigating healthcare risk is no mean feat but there are a number of low to no cost ways of helping. 

Top 5 tips to help make physical and mental wellbeing all-inclusive 

  • Firstly, don’t try to tackle this alone. Get your consultants and providers involved – they have a vested interest in helping you out. All-inclusive and relevant support requires integrated thinking and partnership working, across your suppliers and across internal business departments.
  • Find out your employees’ needs and key healthcare risk drivers. Again, work with your existing suppliers to help out. Employee mood surveys are in common use across organisations. Integrate the results of these with healthcare claims data and analysis, plus absence data to ensure as meaningful a picture as possible: helping you better target appropriate interventions.
  • Look at maximising your existing benefits to ensure wellbeing and manage absence. For example, work with your providers and consultants to make the most of all the added value wellbeing benefits and services included with your group health and risk policies. For example, VitalityHealth has just launched Essentials – the first initiative of its kind to extend key preventative healthcare benefits to the wider employee base of its small to medium sized PMI clients. This is free of charge and provides access to a key set of lifestyle health and primary care benefits, irrespective of whether individuals are covered by PMI. By providing all-employee support, as opposed to only those lucky enough to be insured, you can better manage absence and improve productivity. Evidence shows that healthy organisations are 25 days a year more productive per employee than unhealthy organisations*.
  • Ensure your duty of care responsibilities are extended to contractors as well as employees. Consider leveraging your scale and buying power to offer competitive voluntary and self-pay benefits.
  • Inclusivity applies to the support your suppliers should be providing to you - the employer - too. For example, as mentioned earlier, group PMI providers should be looking at ways to extend their key preventative healthcare benefits to the whole of your workforce, whether insured under the policy or not, allowing for whole of workforce diagnostics and reporting.

*Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, Vitality, 2017

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Vitality

We’re the first insurance company to reward people for healthy living. We aim to be the best at what we do, offering comprehensive and award-winning Health and Life cover and positively different investments to our members. We believe in the idea of ‘shared value’: we help you take a more active role in managing your own wellness, which can encourage you to develop healthy long-term habits that are good for you, good for us and good for society.

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