Employee benefits should be 'reversed' in 2020

Emotional and health support in the workplace should come first, and financial support second

Christine Husbands, managing director of healthcare services provider RedArc, said that if companies do not take this into account they risk being left behind.

Husbands told HR magazine that she found many HR teams don’t understand the benefits that are available to individuals, so they don’t tend to talk about them. “I think that employers should really take the time to understand them better," she said.

Husbands suggested that changing how employee benefits such as income protection and critical illness cover are promoted could be a more engaging proposition. The alternative, she says, is to promote benefits as relative to maintaining good health and wellbeing, with financial protection being a secondary consideration.

She added that a focus on mental and physical health needs to be the priority for employers looking to engage staff in their employee benefits offering in the coming year.

Accessing treatment through the NHS is often challenging, therefore added-value services in a benefits package come to the fore. They allow employees to get expert help quickly, something Husbands said is of great importance.

“I don’t see the situation [in the NHS] improving quickly, if ever. I think that being able to get access quickly and conveniently to everyday-type services that help to keep people well can help to nip things in the bud. Therefore, this is in the best interest of not only the employee but also the employer,” she explained.

Husbands concluded: “When a financial payout is the expectation of an employee benefit we’re already starting from the point of worst-case scenario, and for the many who don’t need to make a financial claim the benefit can be seen as low priority for something that may never happen.

“Employees are much more engaged with an employee benefit that is a set of useful, day-to-day, health-related services aimed at keeping them well and dealing quickly with issues – such as ill health, bereavement, trauma – with the financial payout becoming the last resort.”