This piece is by Soraya Chamberlain, Vice President of Corporate Sales at HCA Healthcare UK, (pictured below) and it takes a look at how the healthcare insurance market has changed, with a new emphasis on support & wellbeing. Plus it identifies where future demand is to be found for health insurers.
Over the past two years, the world of work has undergone a significant transformation. Whilst large corporations and SMEs alike have grappled with this unprecedented period, it has also brought about a unique opportunity for leaders to improve the ways they operate, particularly when it comes to their approach to corporate healthcare.
Once considered as a ‘nice to have’, the Covid-19 pandemic has propelled corporate healthcare to the forefront with employers acknowledging the crucial role it can play in building a strong workplace culture and more productive and resilient workforce. In fact, nearly half of UK companies have said expanding their healthcare offerings, particularly through telehealth services, will continue to be a top priority over the coming years.
Whilst the growing demand and drive for corporates to develop premium workplace health solutions is a brilliant step in the right direction, there are key considerations businesses need to take if they are to be considered market leaders in this new world of corporate health and ensure their policies add real value to employees’ wellbeing.
Corporate healthcare opportunities
Personally, I believe this is an incredibly exciting time in corporate health, as more employers recognise the significant role they can play in the wider wellbeing of their teams. From providing access to primary and occupational services, to urgent care and outpatient clinics, the scope to support and add value to employees is vast. It is also important to remember that services which extend to an employee’s wider family, particularly those with elderly parents or neurodivergent children, can also go a long way to cultivating a supportive culture.
Amid this narrative, there are particular areas of focus which have the potential to enhance the future of corporate healthcare – for example, screening.
The importance of screening, both to employees and employers, has rapidly risen up the agenda. Traditionally targeted at the top echelon of staff, we are now seeing organisations rethinking their allocation of resources so that they can extend some level of health screening to all employees.
This shift in focus is only set to accelerate over the next five years, with both onsite and digital screening becoming commonplace as corporate healthcare provisions shift to encompass preventative strategies. With 1 in 6 couples in the UK affected by fertility issues, fertility benefits are also fast becoming a core component of premium workplace health solutions. From providing access to appointments with a specialised consultant and covering the subscription costs for fertility apps, to contributing to IVF treatment, egg freezing and even surrogacy, the scope to support employees is vast.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, we have seen a particular increase in interest regarding egg freezing and fit-for-fertility testing. In response, a large number of companies are now working to develop bespoke packages that empower their employees to understand their fertility status.
While many consider fertility treatment to be a private matter, it puts a significant mental and physical strain on those going through it – including at work. As this understanding gathers pace, not only will the opportunities for corporates to provide support, but so too will demand for these services.
PARADIGM SHIFT IN RECRUITMENT
Impact on recruitment and retention 2021 was the year the Great Resignation took hold, with over 4.4 million people across the UK quitting their jobs. By the end of November 2021, the number of job vacancies had hit a twenty year high, with the equivalent of 1.5 job openings per unemployed person.
While the outlook for 2022 was more optimistic, the competition for talent remains fierce. Given the ongoing recruitment and retention challenges, businesses need to stop and take stock of how they are proposing to support employees in the post pandemic world.
Long gone are the days where the pay packet was the be all and end all. Now, employees are equally drawn towards bespoke corporate health services, meaning the demand for premium policies has never been greater.
Therefore, businesses need to offer personalised solutions that are flexible and versatile, offer both digital and in-person options and cater both nationally and centrally, if they want to stand out against market competitors and attract and retain the top talent.
Alongside this push, employers also need to consider how health and wellbeing strategies can help bring people back into the office and create a compassionate culture of care that the workforce want to contribute to.
For example, around 25% to 30% of employees are still hesitant about travelling into London on public transport, which is impeding many ‘return-to-office’ strategies and putting a strain on fostering a strong company culture. However, turning the office into a social hub for health and wellbeing can give staff a reason to come into the office and make them feel valued on a more personal level. Providing the likes of yoga and nutrition classes, educational sessions on topical issues such as menopause, or having GPs or psychologists on site are just a few strategies which corporates can adopt to drive this change forward.
Adding business value
Developing a corporate healthcare offering is undoubtedly rising on the agenda for all businesses, from SMEs right up to large conglomerates. However, regardless of company size, the return-on-investment (ROI) needs to be prioritised in order for these programmes to be successful in the long run.
At the moment, many businesses are rushing to adopt services which are not integrated appropriately and, all too often, employees are not even aware they can access them. Instead of employers reacting to themes they believe they should be addressing, it is important to communicate with staff to ensure the benefits they are offering align with what the workforce wants and needs.
Holding interactive sessions and employee focus groups for example, and utilising company data and insights will become increasingly important in shaping investment decisions for corporate healthcare policies over the next couple of years.
Understandably, not all companies have the resources to fund extensive healthcare schemes. However, providing employees with the knowledge they need to make informed personal choices is equally important. Whether it is endorsing communications with community groups, signposting to charities or campaigning to help employees gain access to appropriate treatment pathways, there is a much wider health and wellbeing ecosystem that employers can feed into with equal ROI opportunities.
Health and wellbeing is nothing new, however, it has been propelled to the forefront of the corporate agenda post-pandemic and employers now have a responsibility to provide access to services to support a more effective and productive business. As a result, boards are looking to invest significantly in this area, with fertility, menopause, mental wellbeing and neurodiversity among the key areas of focus.
Ultimately, there are no restrictions to the level of support corporates can provide, and whilst the landscape is likely to look very different in the next six to twelve months, bespoke offerings will be crucial to resonate among employees and bring true ROI. One thing is clear – there has never been a better time to invest in Corporate Healthcare.