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07 Jun 2024
by Emma Capper

How to seamlessly link preventative health processes with employee benefits

Encouraging health and wellbeing among employees can be key to reducing absenteeism, lifting morale and boosting productivity

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Looking after the health and wellbeing of employees is a cornerstone of organisational success. But it’s no longer enough just to have employee benefits in place should employees get sick. More firms are now focusing on preventative health and guiding employees towards a healthier lifestyle.  

The case for preventative health is clear. A report from the British Medical Association (BMA) at the end of 2022 warned the UK is getting sicker. It highlighted that we have a higher number of preventable illnesses than similar European countries, while the number of working-age people reporting multiple health conditions has skyrocketed in recent years.  

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also shows that the number of people inactive due to long-term sickness is now 2.8 million – an increase of more than 200,000 in the past year and of 700,000 since the pandemic started in 2020.   

Fostering a culture of health and wellbeing is vital to reduce absenteeism due to illness or health related issues. It also boosts employee morale and productivity and can help businesses to make long-term cost savings on private medical insurance and group risk benefits by reducing claims.  

For these reasons, providers and employers are making preventative health a priority.  

But how can businesses seamlessly link preventative health processes with employee benefits to create a holistic approach to employee health and wellbeing? 

The solution lies in creating care pathways that offer a smooth journey for employees, from prevention through to taking a proactive approach to help to manage health conditions and giving support when needed.

Creating care pathways 

Businesses often have a great deal of support available, but it can be complex for employees to navigate and access when they need it. There can be overlap too with similar services offered by different providers. To provide a seamless experience, we recommend employers design a strategy that starts with prevention, focused on stopping employees getting ill in the first place, and ends with support in place should the worst happen.   

One solution is to create a health and wellbeing strategy around the four pillars of wellbeing – mental, physical, financial and social – and then mapping care pathways to help employees through their healthcare journey. This is a programme of support that starts with improving the everyday and moves through different stages, ending with long-term absence, but with the aim of preventing the employee from becoming absent. 

The pathways would be tailored to each business and based on support that is already in place and could also be used to uncover any gaps in what the company offers.  

The pathways could begin with preventative measures such as encouraging better nutrition and taking exercise, offering meditation and mindfulness tools and resources through to financial education and advice.  

Although implementing preventative healthcare measures can’t force people to change, a programme that focuses on education and raising awareness access to things like gym membership, stopping smoking programmes and nutrition advice will encourage some to address lifestyle factors or habits that may cause them harm in the future. 

The next stage to the pathways is designed to help employees to take a proactive approach by offering services such as health and cancer screenings that are designed to highlight employee risks, along with employee assistance programmes offering access to counselling services for instance if they are suffering poor mental wellbeing. 

Companies also need to ensure support is in place, such as private medical insurance and critical illness insurance, if someone falls ill or faces financial challenges. We are also seeing an increase in businesses looking at the support they can offer around childcare, eldercare plus debt management and short-term loans. 

The final stage is focused on managing long-term absence. This is where benefits such as income protection and critical illness come into play. Crucially these need to be dovetailed into the businesses care pathways with access to early intervention support being key. 

Designing a comprehensive health and wellbeing programme with clear pathways helps to smooth the journey for the employee. It considers various touchpoints and enables employees to access referrals when needed. It can also help businesses work with providers more effectively.  

By mapping out pathways, employers can streamline the benefits they offer by seeing what providers are offering and ensuring there is no overlap. This is an opportunity to focus on the best solution by directing employees to one vetted provider.  

Also from a business perspective, collating data from a single provider is more meaningful compared to sourcing it from several providers, which could dilute the numbers.  

Mind the gaps  

We recommend carrying out a review which includes looking at the health and wellbeing needs of the workforce, mapping out what support is already in place and where any gaps lie, which is often in the preventative healthcare space. 

Understanding the health and wellbeing challenges employees face can enable employers to design a strategy around the four pillars of wellbeing which starts with prevention. This can then be integrated into a cohesive and clear pathway for employees to access the support and benefits they may need when they need them.  

Howden can assist businesses in conducting a review, followed by designing and implementing a health and wellbeing strategy, including recommending preventative health measures that will align with the organisation's goals and values. 

For more information on Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, click here

In partnership with Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing

Howden provides insurance broking, risk management and claims consulting services, globally. We work with clients of all sizes to provide dedicated employee benefits & wellbeing consultancy.

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