Why All Businesses Should Cover the Three Pillars of Wellbeing
SMEs and FTSE 100 companies should be addressing the three pillars of wellbeing, says Nick Hale, Founder-Director at employee benefits brokerage Engage Health Group.
The scale of employee benefit schemes vary massively depending on the size of a business. While the likes of Google might have the spare capital to lay a running track on top of their London headquarters, this is probably not an option for SMEs!
As an employee benefits broker, we work with businesses of all sizes. Some are operating within tight financial constraints while others have more money to invest. Yet, the desire to provide the best possible experience for employees remains the same.
When we work with clients, big or small, we like to break things down into three core areas of wellbeing: mental, physical and financial. Whether you’re a young start-up or a large corporate, covering these bases is vitally important as each one feeds into the other. If one link in the chain is broken, the rest often follows.
By approaching things from this perspective, businesses of all sizes can be assured of providing the best possible wellbeing support within their price range. In turn, this affects important HR metrics related to staff sickness, retention and recruitment – not to mention harder to quantify performance measures, such as workplace productivity and staff morale.
Supporting the three pillars of wellbeing
Pillar #1: Physical wellbeing
Physical health is the area where businesses traditionally focus their energies when drawing up a benefits scheme. There are two key areas to consider: preventative and reactive care.
Preventative care: Employees of all ages and health circumstances can benefit from preventative care as it encompasses wellness programmes and activities which get people feeling great day-to-day. Of course, it also includes things like health screenings and GP services to identify potential health issues so they can be tackled early or avoided entirely.
Reactive care: Ill health and accidents can strike anyone, so having a solution in place which addresses these issues is ideal.
Ideally, you want to assist in both these areas. Amongst the solutions to consider include Group Health Insurance and Health Cash Plans.
Group Health Insurance covers employees under a single Private Health Insurance policy. These days, insurers provide packages for different budget levels and employee numbers. Services typically include: consultations with specialists, operations and treatments (for ‘acute’ conditions), hospital stays, diagnostic tests, mental health support and more.
Group Health Cash Plans are designed for everyday health needs, as opposed to more urgent care. A Cash Plan usually includes services such as physiotherapy, osteopathy, eyecare, mental health support, virtual GP and more.
The latter option is a useful alternative for businesses who would otherwise struggle to afford a more extensive healthcare plan.
By having policies in place which help prevent serious issues, but also tackle them if they occur, you can be assured of providing optimal support to employees. Every member of your team can benefit from this approach – not just those suffering from health complaints.
Pillar #2: Mental wellbeing
While mental health is sometimes reduced to a buzzword, it’s great that the issue is being taken more seriously and that more and more services are available which can help companies better look after the mental wellbeing of employees.
Any good health professional will tell you that health is a holistic issue. Poor mental health can lead to poor physical health and vice versa. Unsurprisingly, poor mental wellbeing is associated with lost productivity in the workplace, according to numerous studies.
Thankfully, employers have a variety of tools at their disposal:
- Digital apps/platforms: these vary widely from simple mindfulness apps to full blown digital platforms which enable access to professional counsellors and integration with HR software.
- Employee Assistance Programmes: EAPs provide access to professional counselling services and tools designed to improve emotional resilience. They are usually housed on digital platforms and included with a Group Health Insurance policy, Health Cash Plan and some Income Protection schemes.
- Health Insurance/Cash Plans: as well including EAPs, they usually provide virtual GP access and a variety of support mechanisms.
Don’t forget that the wider company culture matters too. A pleasant and supportive working environment can help keep staff in a positive and productive mindset, and help them better cope with whatever difficulties they may be facing in their personal or professional lives.
Pillar #3: Financial wellbeing
The idea of financial wellbeing has become more prominent in recent years due to the increased costs of living. Quite simply, pay doesn’t go as far as it used to. The simplest solution would be to raise every staff member’s pay in line with inflation, but this is not affordable for many businesses.
There are a variety of things that businesses can provide through their benefits schemes which can make a meaningful difference:
- Discount and rewards schemes: often housed on digital platforms, you can provide a range of discounts for various products and services, ranging from groceries, to gym memberships, restaurant deals and much more.
- Group Income Protection: this is a form of sick pay insurance which provides extra financial support above and beyond statutory sick pay requirements. It usually kicks in when the statutory sick pay period comes to an end, when staff would otherwise have to go without.
- Group Life Insurance: provides financial protection for the loved-ones of employees should the worst happen.
- Group Critical Illness: provides financial support in the event of an employee suffering a critical illness.
Again, there are simple measures that businesses can take to help too. Free lunches in the workplace, remote working opportunities, travel discount/reimbursement schemes, free parking or cycle-to-work schemes.
Are you ready to tackle the three pillars of wellbeing?
Every company is different, but addressing the three pillars of wellbeing is a challenge that every business should be willing to take on. The reward for getting it right is a team of happy, healthy and productive employees.
Nick Hale is Founder-Director at Engage Health Group, an award-winning employee benefits brokerage and consultancy which offers free and impartial advice to UK businesses.