Louise Neilson: Health cash plans and PMI proactively support staff

Louise Neilson 430

The National House Building Council’s (NHBC) health and wellbeing strategy is supported by benefits that help to attract and retain talent. We want to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to wellbeing, ensuring that our employees are well at work and as productive as possible, and to support them if they become ill.

We offer various health benefits, including gym membership and bikes via salary sacrifice, an employee assistance programme (EAP), mini health checks, eye tests and part-funded hearing aids. We also offer private medical insurance (PMI) alongside a cash plan that employees fund.

Cash plans are cost-effective and straightforward, and employers can tailor them to suit the workforce demographic, hence they have a wide appeal. They are all about prevention; employees do not need to be ill to claim. A cash plan helps employees to meet their everyday health needs and to take responsibility for their own health.

However, in cases of serious illness, which are often unexpected and expensive, PMI is a valuable benefit. PMI gives employees quick access to diagnosis and treatment when they need it most. Employers can tailor the cover to suit the demographic of their workforce. At NHBC, we have added enhanced musculoskeletal cover to help reduce related absence. But PMI cover comes at a cost, and a peak in claims can make the benefit increasingly expensive.

PMI and cash plans can be integrated and complement one another, and, as with all benefits, the employer should align these to the objectives of its health and wellbeing strategy, monitor trends in the organisation, then adapt what is on offer to suit the changing needs of the business and employees. Most importantly, employers need to market what they are offering to drive take-up.

Louise Neilson is reward manager at NHBC