Employee Wellbeing at the Heart of New Met Life Product for SMEs

One thing every employer needs to be aware of today is their duty of care towards employees, including freelancers and sub-contractors. It isn’t enough to simply have an accident book, employers insurance certificate on the wall and hold a team briefing on heavy lifting once a year. You need to be aware of how stressed your staff may be, or how they are coping with events in their personal life, because employers who fail to offer support can sometimes face legal action. Here’s some news from Met Life;

MetLife has enhanced its Group Life proposition to focus on small-to-medium enterprise SME employees well-being as it aims to expand the market and support more employers.

Its research among SMEs employing between 50 and 300 staff – which make up around 34,000 businesses with an annual turnover of £541 billion and employing 3.3 million people – found 31% of firms believe staff well-being is a major issue.

MetLife’s Group Life proposition introduces an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) designed to meet the needs of employees of smaller companies and it believes there is a significant demand for support. Less than a quarter (24%) of SMEs across the UK have access to EAPs and more than two-fifths (41%) of SME bosses plan to seek advice on how to better support the well-being of their staff.

MetLife’s Group Life scheme featuring the SME EAP covers three core areas of well-being: financial, mental and physical.  Its research amongst SME staff in firms with between 51-250 employees highlights the need for support.

Nearly two out of five (38%) of SME staff believe their employers do not address and manage stress well.  In addition 34% believe SME employers do not manage and address mental wellness issues effectively.  Addressing physical wellness is also a concern for staff employed by SMEs; more than a third (36%) believe this is not addressed or managed well by SME organisations.

Financial well-being services on the EAP include access to legal advisers who can provide information on a broad range of financial issues including debt; credit card consolidation; pensions and retirement planning; budgeting and living on reduced income; and general money management issues.

The mental well-being support includes access to qualified counsellors to offer assistance with issues such as depression; stress; bereavement; anxiety and panic attacks; and relationship counselling.

The physical well-being EAP focus provides access to registered nurses on hand to offer guidance on a range of issues including stopping smoking; exercise and healthier eating; heart health; serious and terminal illness; as well as every day aches and pains.

MetLife’s EAP services are being offered in partnership with Health Assured.  SME employees and family members in the same household can access services by phone and also via MetLife’s Health e-Hub app, all at no additional cost.

Adrian Matthews, Employee Benefits Director, MetLife UK said: “It’s vital to recognise that SME employees are often called upon to step up to the challenges of working in an environment where resources can be stretched. This has implications for staff wellness with impacts for overall mental health; pressures on leisure, family time, exercise and eating patterns.

“SME bosses see staff retention as a major issue and it’s clear that enhanced Employee Benefits are important to the SME sector.  And whilst every employer has different and specific needs, our research shows some very clear SME priorities for Employee Benefit provsion. The proposition must be simple to understand; have an excellent claims handling and payment track record; with the expert support that is dedicated to meet the specific needs of SME employers.

“Less than a quarter of SME staff have access to specialist support services and we aim to address this issue by fulfilling a need for tailored guidance on financial, mental and physical well-being issues that can impact an employee’s daily wellbeing.”

MetLife is focused on expanding its business among SMEs and large corporates including multi-national clients while enhancing strategic partnerships with leading brokers and Employee Benefit Consultancies (EBC’s). It is established as the UK’s third largest Group Life provider by number of schemes it insures and the sixth largest Group Income Protection provider by in-force premium.

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