Employers will soon be able to provide Vitality benefits and primary care assets to employees who are not covered by the PMI scheme, at no extra charge.
Many organisations state publicly that their people are their most important asset, but how often is this reflected in their approach to managing the health and wellbeing of their workforce? While there has been increasing recognition amongst employers and policy-makers of a need for a shift in focus in the sphere of occupational health, progress has been slowed due to a number of challenges, many of which are unique to the UK healthcare market.
Due to the ubiquity of the NHS as a public sector funder of individuals’ healthcare costs, many employers are not exposed to the cost of employee ill-health, giving them little incentive to invest in improving the health and wellbeing of their employees. Additionally, even when an employer does seek to exert a positive influence on employee health, their efforts are hindered by a lack of consistent data and reporting standards in the field, meaning that most approaches focus on managing episodes of acute health, rather than an individuals’ long-term wellness.
Vitality Health Insurance has, for many years, promoted the importance of employee health and wellbeing for employers and has sought to address these challenges, with a key element being Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, a UK-wide study of workplace health and wellbeing conducted by VitalityHealth in partnership with RAND Europe and the University of Cambridge.
The results have concluded two significant findings for UK employers. Firstly, that there is a productivity challenge directly related to the health of employees, and secondly, that successful and well-designed workplace wellness services are key to driving better health, and subsequently employee engagement and organisational success. According to our findings, workplace wellness programmes should offer both specific features (such as incentives and rewards for participation, which was seen to boost employee participation by 70%), and should combine a range of interventions to provide a comprehensive and holistic programme that is engaging of both healthy and less healthy employees.
The research has shown unequivocally that not only is the workplace an important environment in which to promote better health behaviours, but that ultimately the benefit of healthier and more engaged employees is keenly felt by the employer in the form of better productivity and business performance. Promoting better employee health and wellbeing should therefore be at the forefront of an organisation’s human capital strategy.
These findings have formed a key part of the basis for the launch of Vitality’s new product – Vitality Essentials. Fundamentally, this is a product for the uninsured employees of a workforce enabling employers to grow a holistic culture of workplace wellness – rather than only selected employers having access to PMI benefits. The new proposition incorporates elements of the Vitality Programme and primary care benefits for the whole workforce of Vitality’s SME clients at no extra charge.
Benefits include discounts of 40% on membership at Virgin Active, Nuffield and David Lloyd Health Clubs (a joining fee applies) and up to 40% on wearable fitness devices; access to virtual GP consultations through Vitality GP; and whole-of-workforce diagnostics and reporting on employee health through Vitality Age and discounts on Vitality Health Checks and Screenings.
We’ve seen from our own research and experience that Vitality drives positive outcomes for employees and employers, when it comes to health, wellbeing and productivity. These efforts are, however, often hamstrung by a high proportion of employees not having access. The new Essentials proposition will allow employers to extend the key benefits of Vitality to a greater number of their employees, and in doing so reap the rewards.