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    4 things HR teams should know about benefits for employees

    26 January 2023

    Anne Drugnick

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    2 minute read

    What more can employers do to help staff appreciate employee benefits?

    1. NHS strife brings private medical insurance into sharp focus

    Let’s face it, for a good number of companies, the cover they put in place to insure employees against the worst that can happen or enable them to access private healthcare is often seen as part of the furniture.

    In the midst of what can legitimately be called a crisis in the NHS, private medical insurance must suddenly come into view as timely and valuable for your staff. Surely?

    So I was surprised when our latest survey of HR professionals carried out at the end of last year actually placed private medical cover lower in the employer’s list of priorities for benefits for employees than in 2020, at the height of the pandemic.

    Given all that’s gone on, don’t many of us now have a more visible appreciation of what support is on offer to keep us in good health or, at least, to give us the option of the best possible treatment?

    Not, apparently, if our survey is anything to go by. Rated sixth out of ten means it is part of the employee benefit mix but not one which is necessarily prioritised.

    The first point I would make is to reconsider this in light of waiting lists and backlogs making themselves apparent. Notwithstanding our research involving 1,180 HR professionals, is the connection being made to the struggles of the NHS and how it may affect employee morale if they have no recourse to an alternative for them or their family? And should it be to make this benefit more relevant and attractive?

    2. Is price always the right priority for benefits for employees?

    Looming economic storm clouds are casting a shadow over employer HR budgets. While price always has been a key factor, is it the only characteristic to take into account?

    We would say it is a headline but not the whole story.

    In reality, there is little difference in what you pay for company benefits like private medical insurance and the like, no matter who arranges it, the price will be broadly the same.

    What really counts is the right fit for you as an organisation and your people. This is where we can apply our consulting knowledge, in the sense that there may be cover you had not contemplated which offers better value, rather than a non-existent or negligible discount on insurance which may not be what you need in the first place.

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    3. Income protection policy versus critical illness cover

    Income Protection is the unsung hero of employee benefits – it is more complex and less headline grabbing than critical illness but I for one would not want to live on Government benefits if I were unfortunate enough to suffer a long-term illness. Policies with a limited time-span for payments are now a commonplace option. They offer not only protection but cost certainty for an era in which working patterns continue to shift and evolve in a way unrecognisable from nine to five for life.

    4. Cancer cover doesn't always cover every cancer

    As I’ve written before, the test for health and protection as part of your benefits for employees platform often comes when the worst actually happens. Like firemen, accident and emergency teams or lifeboat crews, you want experts by your side for whom this eventuality is the day job.

    Which is why we are able to consult on what can be uncomfortable aspects such as critical illness cover as it applies to cancer. What you may not be aware of is not all types of cancer are routinely covered by policies designed to protect against the many forms of this disease.

    While this unfortunate detail may come as a surprise to some HR teams, it’s second nature to us. We can guide you through what your organisation needs.

    There’s no easy way to talk about this kind of employee insurance but there are clear advantages, peace of mind being one, to making sure you have the right conversation with consultants who are able to tailor it to your requirements.

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    I was surprised when our latest survey of HR professionals carried out at the end of last year actually placed private medical cover lower in the list of employee benefit priorities than in 2020, at the height of the pandemic.


    Principal - Health and Protection

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