There has been a change in the most utilised benefits by overseas staff, towards preventative healthcare and mental health support, yet businesses may not have kept pace with their offering. The top three most utilised employee benefits abroad are:
- Psychiatric care
- Diagnostic procedures/MRI and testing
This represents a shift from using benefits which treat a condition, to embracing preventative healthcare – that can detect health conditions earlier, significantly improving outcomes; and mental healthcare which not only supports an employee’s wider wellbeing but where early intervention also expedites recovery.
The change in employee psyche, from seeking curative to preventative care, and a willingness to seek help for mental wellbeing, needs to be supported by businesses. Behaviours and attitudes have changed globally, and it’s important that this is reflected in the benefits packages that employers of overseas staff offer. So how can employers modernise and better their communications, considering this change?
Assess company uptake data
Businesses need to review what employee benefits are being utilised within their current packages. It may highlight the trend for moving towards preventative healthcare, and/or a willingness to utilise support for mental health. Employers can then tailor their packages, given what benefits are being used.
If there is no provision made for preventative care or mental health support to measure uptake, then consider what’s available; developments to services are made all the time and it’s important to keep abreast. Consult employees about what benefits they’d like to receive to ensure maximum uptake and engagement too.
Engage employees with updated communications
If there has been a shift in how employees engage with benefits packages, communications should reflect this. It’s important that employees know what’s on offer and how to access benefits, as they are being updated. Taking time to understand why employees are more likely to seek particular healthcare solutions can also be worked into communications, helping others to see why it may benefit them too - in turn improving take-up rates.
Consider employee benefits in the context and culture in which they are being used. Access to mental health support, in a country where such conversations are still thought of as taboo, can be a lifeline to employees that are struggling abroad. If employees don’t feel able to confide in managers or colleagues about their mental health concern, having an employee benefit in place – such as a global employee assistance programme (EAP) where they can speak with a confidential third party – could provide access to much needed support, and can make a difference in the success of an international assignment.
Forward-thinking businesses are reacting to the definitive shift from curative to preventative benefits, by implementing employee packages that reflect this change. Everyone benefits too, as diagnostic procedures and support for mental wellbeing means the earlier people are supported, the better their chances of recovery. Employers that understand staff health behaviours, can better support them – creating a good foundation for building business abroad.
Sarah Dennis is Head of International at Towergate Health & Protection, which she joined in 2014 following over 17 years working as a consultant and in senior management roles in international health insurance companies including Jelf Group, Norwich Union Healthcare (Aviva UK), HealthCare International, Goodhealth Worldwide Ltd. (Aetna Global Benefits) and RSA.
Winner of the International Intermediary of the Year 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2015 and Highly Commended in 2009, 2012 and 2016, in the Health Insurance & Protection Awards - Sarah is a speaker, committee member and contributor to both global industry conferences and international publications.
Sarah is responsible for corporate international private medical insurance and expatriate cover, and the development of exclusive products for SMEs and expatriate groups.