is better than cure – how businesses can use health cash plans to help reduce
Businesses have had a
difficult year. The economic downturn has affected many companies and has
placed renewed focus on cutting costs while improving productivity.
For many organisations the
problem remains the same – how to offer the best benefits to employees without
impacting too much on the bottom line. One of the biggest issues for many
British companies, both big and small, is absenteeism.
According to data from the
Health and Safety Executive (HSE), more than 30 million working days are lost
in Britain every year due to sickness and absence from work; it currently costs
the UK economy £17 billion each year.
While the scale of the problem
as a whole is clearly huge, there are simple things that companies can do to reduce
absenteeism among their staff, bringing real benefits to their business.
It is well documented that a
healthy and happy workforce will be considerably more productive than those
under undue stress. This is particularly true in a smaller company, where
malcontent among employees can spread easily and severely impact on a business.
Although there are many
different factors to employee absenteeism, the most common reason for taking
time off work is ill health.
Clearly employers cannot
eliminate every instance of sickness within their workforce. However, it is
important that companies look to reduce the causes of illness wherever possible.
Prevention is better than cure
The old adage “prevention is
better than cure” still holds true today and is particularly applicable when trying
to reduce absenteeism in the workplace.
Health cash plans are a
cost-effective way for employers to offer a healthcare solution to staff
Health cash plans can complement private medical
insurance (PMI) as there is no or little overlap in cover and benefits. A
health cash plan is for everyday healthcare treatments, whereas PMI is used to
cover a wide variety of medical expenses often for more serious issues.
By offering employees easy
access to healthcare, potential health problems can be diagnosed and treated
quickly and effectively.
In addition to offering
tangible benefits to help boost an individual’s health and wellbeing,
implementing a health cash plan can boost morale and be advantageous in other
Research has shown that a
supportive leadership style leads to a reduction in absenteeism. Therefore,
introducing a health cash plan can, in turn, allow employers to demonstrate a
further level of care within an organisation.
In a smaller company, where
you need every employee to work to the best of their ability, it is
particularly important to develop this sentiment.
Employee Assistance Programmes – a useful tool
Employee Assistance Programmes
(EAPs) are another option that can be integrated into a health cash plan. These
initiatives offer employees access to advice and counselling services 24 hours
a day, seven days a week.
EAPs are not restricted to
healthcare – they can encompass a range of issues relating to lifestyle and
legal problems, in addition to medical and health problems.
This service can be particularly
useful when it comes to reducing stress within the work environment.
A study by Professor John
McLeod of the University of Abertay, Dundee, found that counselling can reduce
the rate of absenteeism due to stress by up to 50 per cent.
Other benefits recorded by the
research include a reduction in absenteeism by between 25 and 50 per cent, as
well as improved levels of job satisfaction and commitment.
Clearly, for any company all
these factors are vital in making sure that the business is successful.
What about the bottom line?
It is a well known fact that
you have to spend money to make money and the same applies in keeping your
workforce happy and healthy.
While there is an outlay for a
health cash plan, this can be carefully managed by selecting the level of cover
available and by choosing a provider that allows you to tailor it to the business’
Employees can also be offered
top-ups, allowing them to contribute to the cost of cover should they want a
higher level of cover – or to extend the plan to cover members of their
Health cash plans can be
incredibly effective at reducing employee absenteeism as part of a wider
approach towards health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Organisations of every size
need to understand that there is no quick-fix or one-size-fits-all solution to
the issues of absenteeism, but should instead take an informed and targeted
approach to the problem.
Companies can benefit from
engaging employees through initiatives such as health cash plans and will
experience improved motivation among staff as a result of offering this kind of
For many people, having the reassurance
that help is at hand should it be needed, and knowing that their employer is
supportive, will improve their attitude towards work and also their