In a challenging economic climate, the war for talent rages on and is set to become more complex with changes ahead – such as the impact of Brexit. HR professionals are all too aware of the importance of having the best people, yet don’t always consider all the options available to attract and retain talent due to preconceived ideas they can hold around some employee benefits.
No truer is this, we find, than when it comes to offering private medical insurance (PMI) to attract and retain quality employees. HR professionals can often view PMI as too expensive, or only appealing to a restricted age demographic, when it can actually make or break a talent process. Research finds that 66% of employees said they would be more likely to stay with an employer that provided good benefits,* and PMI is often at the top of wish lists.** So can HR professionals afford not to offer it?
It’s all about the money
PMI can have the reputation of being costly, but only when it is not utilised effectively. Working with specialist providers and brokers can help to ensure that premiums are affordable, whilst employees have access to excellent healthcare benefits. Encouraging take-up of PMI across differing ages of employees means that “risk” is spread further, in turn helping to keep premiums down. Advisers will also explain that PMI often includes popular added-value benefits, such as discounted gym membership or the option to include travel insurance – meaning it can often give much better value than HR professionals may realise and be an added benefit in attracting and retaining talent.
Talking about my generation
Maintaining health is within everyone’s interest, regardless of age. Around 42% of millennials (aged 20 to 40) said they are drinking less than they were three years ago*** and Gen X (aged 40-50) are the most likely group to be members of a health club.**** PMI therefore can serve the interests of all age groups, with value-added benefits such as discounted gym membership, helping them to stay on top of their health. This is obviously good news for businesses too, as they will have a healthy and productive workforce, whilst offering an employee benefit that can be utilised by all ages.
Absence negatively affects all businesses and individuals, putting a strain on both finances and morale. With PMI, wellbeing concerns and subsequent treatments are dealt with promptly – encouraging healthier and quicker returns to work, resulting in less of a toll being taken on finances and employee morale.
As well as tackling absence related to physical health, some PMI plans can also include the option to provide emotional support through benefits that directly support mental health such as employee assistance programmes (EAPs). Being able to access confidential counselling services, can provide a lifeline to employees going through difficult times. It can relieve the strain from HR too, knowing that their employees are being looked after and allowing them to focus on other pressing issues that the profession demands.
With the multiple benefits PMI offers, HR professionals could be missing a trick by assuming that they can’t afford it – or that it wouldn’t be that valuable to all employees. As health and wellbeing are so central to many employees’ lives, and therefore rising up the agenda for companies too, offering PMI can help to establish a business as an employer of choice – helping to attract and retain the best people.
Brett Hill – Managing Director, The Health Insurance Group