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Forecasting Employee Wellbeing and Benefits Trends

By Andrew Supple, Partner

Well over 10 years ago, I stood up at a company event and spoke to my peers about how the UK employee benefit market would embrace the idea of employee wellbeing to the point that it would be central to the offering of most providers.

I didn’t have a crystal ball; I could just see the clear trends from working with my US colleagues and from my work over the last 5 years conducting an annual global survey on employee wellbeing.

Naysayers beware…

After my presentation, some of the representatives from various providers came to me and said they doubted my analysis; some came over and said they agreed, and some just laughed and said the market never changed.

I took in all the various opinions but stayed firm in my view. The evidence base was strong and clearly showed that employee wellbeing was heading to the UK in the next 5-10 years.

In 2022, we find ourselves in a position where employee wellbeing is fundamental to most UK providers’ employee benefits strategy; and has been for at least 5 years.

Every provider has some form of employee wellbeing offering at the heart of their proposition and they continue to look at ways to expand on it for their customers.

Not only is employee wellbeing at the heart of their proposition, but it can also be found at the heart of many providers’ workplace culture.  Not only are they encouraging their clients to embrace employee wellbeing, but they are also making efforts to support their own employees with their wellbeing.  The very tools that they provide to their customers are also at the heart of their own internal strategy.

The role of technology

Arguably the biggest driver of the new employee wellbeing drive is technology.  Employee wellbeing is not new, it was prevalent in the 1950s and onwards in a paternalistic fashion through the onsite company doctor and nurse.  Outsourcing due to cost from the 1980s onwards put paid to the original version, but technology has provided a route to allow a version of it to return.

Now you can provide access to a Private GP, Counsellor, Nutritionist or Personal Trainer online for a considerably reduced cost to having them onsite and in-person.  Across the health and protection markets, every mainstream provider has a platform or application that can allow members of an insurance scheme to receive access to a Virtual Private GP.

What now?

What does this mean for the employee benefits industry as a whole?  Well, when you now buy a corporate pension, protection or healthcare product; not only do you get all the benefits from these purchases, but you also get the benefit of all these new employee wellbeing tools.

And these offerings are evolving every year as the technology gets better, the services become more competitively priced, and providers can add more value in to their proposition.

From just one health cash plan provider, your employees can access – Virtual Private GP, Employee Assistance Programme, Retail Discounts, Gym Membership Discounts, Skin Care App and Physio App!  This is on top of all the standard benefits of having access to a health cash plan such as being able to claim back on dental, optical and other regular health expenses.

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