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Why you must future-proof your employee health and wellbeing programme

18th Dec 2015
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Employers should expect to take a bigger role in supporting the health and wellbeing of the people they employ.

This is a clear message emerging from a close reading of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, where employee benefits and health issues were an unusually prominent theme.

While the Chancellor won’t announce exactly what he expects until the government has published its white paper in early 2016, the Five Year Forward View published by the NHS highlights the scope for employers to step up the preventative measures they have in place to support employee wellbeing and provide timely access to health services.   

And as the NHS struggles to keep pace with healthcare demand – particularly for those who don’t have chronic conditions – it makes good business sense for employers to start preparing for a future where employers take a greater role in supporting employee wellbeing.

There are many things you can do to start addressing this today - here are some practical steps:

Give your employees flexibility to attend health checks

Losing pay or holiday – or both – can be a major disincentive for employees to attend routine eye, dental and GP health checks. Consider giving your employees a time budget each year to allow them to attend these appointments. Also offer flexibility for them to make up time at work rather than lose out on pay or holiday.

Help them access the healthcare they need

The NHS remains a great resource to support employee wellbeing, but on many occasions the treatments and support people need isn’t available for free. Providing cash plans or health insurance is one way of supporting everyday health costs. Equally, you can reduce the cost of health treatment or make cash plans go further with our Healthy Discount scheme.

Consider bringing healthcare to the workplace

Getting health advice doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the office. A major trend we see in the US is the use of telemedicine to give employees access to healthcare where nearly 80% of employers offer 24/7 access to a doctor in this way.  Many also use mobile eye and dental care services to provide check-ups at work.

Think more broadly about the other drivers of ill health

Many small factors in the workplace contribute to ill health over the long term. These are things like poor lighting and overuse of screens, bad posture, being deskbound and access to the wrong kind of snacks and food. Identify the day-to-day drivers of ill health and make a plan to make your workplace more healthy.

Get your managers on board

Managers are the front line in ensuring employees help themselves to stay healthy. Outline how you want them to support employee wellbeing – including keeping an eye out for mental health issues – and educate them about why it matters.

All these suggestions are low or no cost to an employer and if communicated well to staff will yield employers a high return on investment in the form of a healthy workforce.

Munroe Sutton supports employers with discounts on healthcare and dental care. You can find out more about us here.


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