Occupational Safety and Health Forum Occupational Safety and Health Forum Occupational Safety and Health Forum Occupational Safety and Health Forum Occupational Safety and Health Forum

Posts Tagged :

employee benefits

Only a third of employers offer financial support to all staff in the event of ill health, injury or death

As the cost of living continues to bite, new research from GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector shows that only a third of employers say they offer their entire workforce financial support if they are long term absent2 (i.e. for six months or more), diagnosed with a serious illness, or die while being in employment. 

The figures rise by a third if the number of employers who say they offer support to some, rather than all, employees is considered but those employers who only offer financial support to those at a certain level of experience, seniority, or pay, are leaving those least able to cope financially the most vulnerable.

One third of employees and their families are currently left entirety without any financial support during times of a health difficulty or crisis.

 If an employee…
 is long-term absent (for six months or more) due to ill health, disability or injuryis diagnosed with a serious illnessdies while being in employment
Employers who offer support for ‘all’ staff35%33%34%
Employers who offer support for ‘some’ staff33%33%33%
Employers who offer ‘opt in’ insurance benefits8%8%6%
Employers who do not offer any support33%34%34%

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “Wider industry statistics indicate that the number of employers who offer support is actually much lower in practice, and given the current squeeze on household finances, this highlights a woeful lack of financial support and security for many employees. 

“As individuals, we like to think that ‘it won’t happen to us’ and perhaps, as optimistic employers, the tendency is also to think that ‘it won’t happen to our employees’ but it can and does. Support for serious issues like absence, illness and death is affordable and accessible for employers to offer their staff. We would encourage those who don’t offer any support to do some investigation and those who only offer support to some staff to consider making it available to everyone.”

The UK Group Risk industry paid out £2.22bn in claims in 2021 to 30,932 employees – equivalent to £6.1m a day, demonstrating the extent to which these employee benefits help employees and their families to cope financially when their lives take a turn for the worse.

Debunking the myths on group risk protection insurance (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness benefits)

·       Many employers wrongly believe that providing this financial support is expensive but the cover is found in some of the most affordable benefits and can start from as little as 0.1% of payroll.

·       Some employers believe that it is not their responsibility to provide financial support but increasingly staff are looking to their employer for help in all aspects of their lives. Not only is it the right thing to do, but employers who do not take suitable action risk their reputation which could lead to recruitment and retention issues.

·       Employers sometimes assume that staff prefer more tangible or immediate gratification. While this may have been the case, the pandemic has meant many employees have revaluated their position and are now more likely to value financial support of this kind.

Reflecting on the disparity of only offering protection benefits to some staff, Moxham added: “I cannot imagine being on the HR team that has to tell one member of staff that they are eligible for financial support and then having to tell another that, for whatever reasons, they are not on the same scheme. When two individuals face a health crisis, they both deserve access to financial support.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the past two years, it’s that we should expect the unexpected. With the right support in place, however, when life does take an unexpected twist or turn, it does not need to have a detrimental financial impact on the employee or their loved ones.

Paid sick leave most in-demand employee benefit

Paid sick leave tops the list of benefits and incentives that matter most to British employees, according to new research by HR and payroll software provider CIPHR.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, after two years of pandemic-led disruption and rising living costs, among the most popular employee benefits are those which help supplement squeezed incomes, support people’s health, and encourage work-life balance. 

For over two-thirds (67%) of the 1,001 people polled, sick pay is the employee benefit that they value most, followed by flexible working hours (57%) and pension contribution matching (46%) – where employers offer to match employees’ pension payments on top of the minimum auto-enrolment requirements.

Mental health and wellbeing support ranks fourth. Receiving a performance bonus and working a four-day week – enabling employees to earn the same wages for fewer hours – are in fifth and sixth place (selected by 40%, 39% and 37% of people respectively).

Next on the list, in seventh place, is extra holiday allowance, which, interestingly, was preferred by more people than unlimited paid leave (32% vs 18%).

Being able to save money on purchases via an employee discounts scheme (30%), having a flexible working location (27%), and receiving a market-value salary (26%) complete the employees’ top 10.

When it comes to employee benefits, every individual’s requirements and priorities differ, of course. And the order of importance varies depending on who is being asked. For workers over 45 years old, for example, getting their pension contributions matched (to help them build a bigger pension pot faster) appears to be more beneficial than being able to work flexible hours (59% vs 45%). For those under 45 years old, who are further away from retirement, it’s the opposite – with more people in this age group ranking flexible working hours higher than pension contribution matching (57% vs 42%).

There are also a few differences between what male and female survey respondents want from their employers’ benefits packages. Statistically, women place more importance on receiving help towards childcare assistance than a market-value salary (27% vs 21%). More men, on average, favour being awarded a performance bonus over being paid a market-value salary (45% vs 34%).

Here’s a rundown of the top 15 benefits and perks for all employees:

  1. Paid sick leave (67%)
  2. Flexible working hours (57%)
  3. Pension contribution matching (46%)
  4. Mental health and wellbeing support (40%)
  5. Performance bonus (39%)
  6. Four-day work week on full-time pay (37%)
  7. Extra holiday allowance (32%)
  8. Employee discounts scheme (30%)
  9. Flexible working location (27%)
  10. Market-value salary (26%)
  11. Childcare assistance (23%)
  12. Health insurance or cash-back plans (21%)
  13. Extra paid day off for birthdays (21%)
  1. Extended paid parental leave (20%)
  2. Death benefits (18%)
  3. Unlimited paid leave (18%)

The full list – featuring the top 25 most important benefits and incentives to employees – is available to view at https://www.ciphr.com/survey-infographic-the-benefits-incentives-employees-value-most.

42% of employees don’t know about or understand all their employee benefits

Research from GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector has shown that 42% of employees don’t know about or understand all their employee benefits. According to HRs:

  • 25% are aware of them but don’t understand them all
  • 11% are aware of some of them, and
  • 6% don’t know about or understand any of them

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “Employers put in a lot of time, effort and resources to get the right benefits for their staff. For them to be valued, utilised and understood, it’s absolutely vital that companies communicate them.”

Methods used to communicate benefits included apps, written and promotional campaigns, with the most popular being:

  • Email, utilised by 37% of employers
  • Staff welcome pack, utilised by 34% of employers
  • Staff handbook, utilised by 29% of employers
  • Noticeboard, utilised by 27% of employers
  • Company intranet, utilised by 24% of employers
  • Before day one of employment/offer letter, utilised by 22% of employers

Eight percent of employers admit to not communicating any employee benefits at all.

Employees themselves were asked how they like to have their benefits communicated, and the order of popularity largely mirrors what companies are doing.

  • Email, preferred by 38% of employees
  • Staff welcome pack, preferred by 25% of employees
  • Company intranet, preferred by 22% of employees
  • Staff handbook, preferred by 17% of employees
  • Before day one of employment/offer letter, preferred by 16% of employees
  • Noticeboard, preferred by 15% of employees

Moxham continued: “It’s great to see a wide range of communication methods being utilised. Different methods will resonate with different staff, so the best way to get the message across is to use a mix, including digital, written and in-person.”

Pandemic

Forty-three percent of employers say they changed how they communicate their benefits in light of the pandemic. Sixty percent increased their activity, 53% placed more emphasis on their support for wellbeing and 45% increased their investment.

Moxham concluded: “During the pandemic, people looked to their employers for support for health and wellbeing. This was an opportunity for employers to tell their staff about all the benefits they offered, from healthcare and group risk to all the embedded services such as access to virtual GPs and counselling – all the support that people needed and were struggling to get, but could access via their employee benefits.

“This increase in activity to communicate employee benefits will pay dividends and we’d encourage employers to continue with this.”

Fifth of employers not providing ill-health prevention support to staff

One in five employers are missing a trick by not supporting the prevention of ill-health in their staff, according to research undertaken on behalf of GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector.

Employers who do provide health and wellbeing support to help prevent employees becoming ill, stated that they find flexible working initiatives (28%), emotional support such as counselling (17%), and initiatives to help manage stress and mental health (16%) the most helpful. Following these, mental health first aiders, Private Medical Insurance, and Employee Assistance Programmes were also considered useful.

However, there is so much more support available which employers are potentially missing out on. Prevention and early intervention support has become increasingly varied and comprehensive – particularly as COVID-19 has hastened developments in this area – and employers need to be aware of all that is available to them. Diagnostics, health screening, access to GPs, rehabilitation, apps to improve health behaviours, lifestyle advice on nutrition, sleep, health and fitness are all readily available within employee benefits and can be excellent ways to prevent serious conditions developing.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: ‘When employers offer employee benefits that have preventative support built in, they’re demonstrating that they care about their staff’s long-term health and wellbeing. It also means that their employees will have the best chance of being able to access whatever new supportive developments arise in the future.’

Ten years ago it was only some of the very large corporates who were able to offer their staff access to a GP, either in person or over the phone. Today, arranging a virtual GP appointment is not out of the ordinary – it’s included within many benefits, and is an important element of early intervention and prevention.

Many employers offer some support for health and wellbeing. Some may think this just means offering access to treatment, but it also needs to include access to prevention too. Offering fast-track treatment is just one aspect of looking after staff, but the best support needs to start before treatment is needed, which can possibly mean no treatment – or indeed absence from work – needs to take place. If employers really want to offer the best support to their workforce, it’s vital that health and wellbeing benefits include support for prevention and early intervention too.

Moxham concluded: ‘Employers who do not offer a comprehensive range of preventative support, should really be asking themselves why not, as they are now very much in the minority and may struggle to compete on the recruitment front with others that take a much more comprehensive approach to ill-health prevention in their companies.’