Big disconnect revealed in healthcare benefits provision

Research among 2,000 UK employees and HR decision-makers has revealed a big disconnect between what is expected from staff and the benefits provision they receive.

Organisations claim they now believe health benefits are the most important when it comes to attracting and retaining talent as they look to grow beyond the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, but many are failing to provide these.

The poll, carried out by YouGov on behalf of digital healthcare company Reframe, found nearly half (49%) of employers thought the health and wellbeing of their workforce would be the biggest challenge for them over the next 18 months.

But despite this realisation, only 28% of employees believed their current employee benefits provision is relevant to them.

More worryingly, the study also revealed one in five staff would actually hide a health concern (such as stress, fatigue, or poor mental health), from their organisation.

Another concern for employers unveiled by the survey is that one in five employees in the UK dismissed their current benefits scheme as “irrelevant”.

According to the research, the main priority for small and medium-sized enterprises was in providing financial wellbeing (the priority for 30% of organisations asked), not health and wellbeing. Only when firms grew to 250-staff and above was more emphasis place in wellness, with 45% of those polled citing the provision of employee assistance programmes as the top concern.

Commenting on the findings, Catherine McDermott, CEO at Reframe, said: “Coronavirus has had a massive impact on businesses, changing perceptions of how we approach healthcare in the workplace.”

She added: “What our research highlights is the growing disconnect between decision-makers and their employees, particularly in large organisations, and it is clear that many firms are playing catch up when it comes to supporting the needs of their workforce.”

What employees really wanted, found the survey, was more flexibility and personalisation of benefits (from 75% of those polled). Some 64% of businesses agreed that the pandemic had increased demand for holistic health benefits.

McDermott concluded: “Effective benefits schemes are personalised to employees and their individual requirements, giving them control and helping them take better care of their wellbeing. This can have a big impact on the bottom line – achieving better return on investment, reducing payroll costs, and absence rates.”