More demand and less funding can affect wellbeing
Here in the UK, more people are accessing NHS services every year. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the UK population hit a record high of 66 million residents in 2017 and is projected to continue growing, reaching almost 73 million by 2041.
Proportional population growth shouldn't be a huge issue. In theory, the service should grow alongside our population. But one reason the population is growing is that people are living for much longer – in 2016, 18% of the UK population was over the age of 65. This is projected to reach 24% by 2037 (ONS).
We're left scrambling for appointments to pick up routine medication or wasting hours in A&E to see a doctor.
That means many more people are reaching an age where they no longer work, but need to use the NHS much more often. The results are obvious. GPs are stretched for time, hospitals are overcrowded and the 18-week referral-to-treatment standard has not been met since February 2016.
Combine this with a decade of cuts to NHS funding under austerity measures, and we're left scrambling for appointments to pick up routine medication or wasting hours in A&E to see a doctor.
I'm sure this isn't news to you, or your workforce – as many will have experienced these frustrations themselves. It can have a serious impact on our health, both physical and mental.
What's next for employee health and wellbeing?
So what's the solution? We're living in an age where technology is making our lives easier and better in so many different ways.
Online GP services are providing an alternative to make people's lives easier, making it quicker to talk to a doctor at a time that suits you. There are also a range of online tools that employees can use to proactively manage their health, whether it's to help them improve physical fitness, quit smoking, get better sleep or improve their general mental wellbeing. Remember there's no one-size-fits-all approach as everyone has their own needs, so the fact that technology provides such a wide array of resources is key.
The aims of employee health and wellbeing schemes are:
Wellbeing and the workplace
Let's talk about EVPs for a second. Your Employee Value Proposition is the comprehensive package of benefits included in a job. This includes salary and pension, but also additional workplace benefits.
Discounted gym near the office? Work drinks on a Friday? This is all part of the EVP – everything you give your employees in return for their expertise and hard work.
But now, many employees are looking for employers that go beyond this. Employees want to feel valued as human beings who need support across the board, from a welcoming office environment to an understanding company culture and strong health and wellbeing support.
Your employees’ health and wellbeing impact their lives in the office and at home. Looking out for this shows genuine concern for your workforce, beyond the 9-5 day.
On an additional note, not only will your employees value this benefit, the business will reap the rewards too. When your employees' health and wellbeing is strong, they will be more engaged, productive and morale will be boosted.
But is health and wellbeing an employer’s responsibility?
Here's the crux: people get sick. Like eating, breathing, or sleeping, once in a while everyone will need to visit the doctor. Whether it's a routine check-up or medication renewal, healthcare is a fundamental part of life – and the right to health is a basic human right.
Just like employers have a responsibility to guarantee a pension, salary or days off, healthcare staff benefits should be part and parcel of a competitive job offer.
With this in mind, we think healthcare should be a part of offering that more companies consider. Employers have a duty of care towards the people they hire, meaning they are obliged to ensure their safety and wellbeing. Good employers will know that this goes beyond fire drills and a first aid kit.
Just like employers have a responsibility to guarantee a pension, salary or days off – healthcare staff benefits should be part and parcel of a competitive job offer. It’s not just good for your employees. A comprehensive EVP will attract the best talent to your business, helping your company to develop.
What are the benefits of making this a priority?
1. Employees will feel nurtured
Introducing policies and initiatives that substantially improve your employees’ lives shows that you genuinely value them. As a result, they will feel appreciated on a deeper level than they would with general perks – although these are appreciated too!
Employment is a two-way street – if workers feel valued, they are much more likely to contribute meaningfully at work.
Your commitment to duty of care will loop directly back into the company, when employees bring that same level of commitment and enthusiasm to the table.
It will also further develop a positive company culture. Workers who feel nurtured are more likely to face Monday mornings with a smile, creating a cheerful environment for everyone.
2. Valuable time is saved
An online GP service will increase the productivity of your workforce in unforeseen ways. For starters, employees who have an existing medical condition may be taking time off work for simple errands like collecting a repeat prescription. An online GP service removes this barrier.
Likewise, offering them free access to online counselling will save them the time of having to look for one, and the digital aspect means it can be done at a more convenient time that doesn't affect their working hours.
3. Help employees be proactive
They say prevention is better than cure, and by offering employees resources that help with their physical and mental health, you can get ahead of the game. For example, Perkbox's Wellness hub has a range of carefully curated content which is available 24/7 globally - from workout videos, to meditation guides, to sleep stories. By giving employees the tools they need from day one, you can help them take control of their wellbeing. It also shows you have a very strong culture of wellbeing, where the health of your people isn't just something you're paying lip service to.
Efforts to help with employee healthcare will boost your workplace productivity and commitment. Healthcare benefits show you’re looking out for everyone, including your more marginalised employees – and that’s not something to be sniffed at.
4. Employees will stick around far longer
Disclaimer: we’re talking about employee retainment. Perkbox does not promise an immortal workforce under this scheme. Of course, hopefully your employees' improved health will mean they can stay working in your company for untold years to come.
In the shorter term, workers will have much more loyalty towards a company that proves they care about their health and wellbeing. When employers take their duty of care seriously, it impacts the whole company culture. It's much more likely that companies will secure a loyal, long-lasting workforce if they show a genuine concern for the wellbeing of the people around them.
5. Your company’s reputation will thrive
Employers that commit to improving the health and wellbeing of their workforce stand out for their well-rounded approach to providing for their employees. Your commitment to wellbeing will help cement your reputation as a top employer.
A top employment package will also help your company stand out from the crowd when it comes to recruiting fresh talent. A serious perk like healthcare benefits will make any job offer more tempting.
Invest in your employee's wellbeing
We’re firm believers that happy workers are productive workers. Targeting the health and wellbeing of your workforce is a great place to start.
The more committed you are to caring for your employees, the more likely it is they will care for the company, and put their best work into their job. We know you mean business, and with Perkbox, you can provide serious employee support and expect serious results.