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Looking after staff has always been important for the best employers. Having a positive environment, culture and approach to personal development have long been components that employers have focused on to demonstrate their commitment to caring about staff.

Remuneration packages too, have been clear differentiators between the best employers and the rest. Salary, of course is important, but savvy employers – and employees – recognise that the accompanying employee benefits can boost the value of remuneration packages significantly.

Traditionally, certain benefits would be expected as core, such as a pension, private healthcare and life assurance. But, along with many things, the recent pandemic has changed all that.

Daily reporting on mortality rates, the effect of underlying medical conditions, obesity and the importance of exercise has meant that we are all focusing on our health and wellbeing more than ever.

Remote, personalised, accessible

Therefore, the health and wellbeing benefits that employers offer have become particularly interesting to staff.

As needs rapidly changed, the industry has been ready to adapt, these include:

  • Remote, virtual access to GPs 24/7 has been a game changer.
  • Access to support for mental health has become even more flexible. Counselling can be provided remotely. Apps allow employees to monitor stress levels, and nudge them to access one-to-one support if needed. Personalised hubs provide a wealth of information for self-care.
  • Celebrities have been brought in to liven up online fitness classes. Discounted home exercise equipment has been made available. Fitness trackers can boost individual motivation, and can also be linked to fellow employees’ workouts to help remote team-building.

Downtime has never been more important, and some providers offer free film downloads, coffee at home, and extra rewards for improving wellbeing.

Let’s get physical

Musculo skeletal conditions account for 40% of sickness absence, but the pandemic hasn’t been a reason for treatment to stop. Providers have made support such as physio available remotely.

The NHS backlog will have a significant impact for some time. Private healthcare will not only help people get the treatment they need, it will also help ease a burden for the NHS.

Employers understand the benefits that providing access to private healthcare can bring in terms of reduced employee absence, but where this may once have been seen as a perk for senior staff, it’s now likely to be offered more widely. There are increasingly flexible options available which have made this affordable for many more employers.

The statistics behind the statistics show the huge decrease in people getting a diagnosis for serious illnesses including cancer. Early diagnosis is imperative for improving outcomes, and providing access to health monitoring and screening is one option that can be a real support to a workforce.

Financial relevance

Where employees may once have paid little attention to financial protection benefits their employer offered – such as life assurance, income protection, critical illness – it’s now become more interesting as they see the direct relevance.

These are some of the most affordable benefits. They’re now likely to be some of the most valued. When a financial pay-out is made in the event of death, illness or injury, the support to an employee and their dependants can be a lifeline. People are now more aware of the likelihood of such an event happening, so will be more engaged in such benefits.

Indeed, financial planning, retirement planning, budgeting, financial education all have more relevance to employees now. Employers that support their workforce in these areas have their finger on the pulse and show a direct understanding of what’s important to their staff.

Communicate and engage

As employees have an increased interest in their physical, mental and financial wellbeing, this provides a perfect opportunity for employers to communicate any support they offer.

And as the benefits themselves have adapted, so too must communication methods. Online platforms, email, post, remote presentations are all being more widely used to great effect. When employees know what support they’re offered, they feel valued and they’re more engaged: great achievements at a time like this.