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Getting personal: Future-proofing staff health benefits

23 October 2018 - 8:42am

From Spotify to Netflix, we love the control that comes with the digital age - today personalisation is everything. But how could this extend to corporate health insurance provision? 

Mike Serbinis, CEO of the hugely successful online employee benefits platform League, believes the future of employer provided health insurance lies firmly with preventative, highly individualised cover.

Here's how employers can benefit from his advice in implementing health insurance policies for their staff.

People want to personalise cover to suit their lifestylesThe future of corporate health insurance could lie in highly individualised cover.

The importance of preventative care in corporate health insurance

The annual cost of employee absenteeism in Australia is estimated to be $33.06 billion, according to the 2017 DHS Absence Management Survey Report. Of the 122 organisations surveyed in this study, 40 per cent believed that absence levels among their staff had increased during the previous 12 months, showing that this isn't a problem likely to simply disappear.

Corporate health plans already go a long way to cutting absentee rates. Patients covered by such schemes have shorter waiting times for procedures such as elective surgery than those using the public system, says research conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The annual cost of employee absenteeism in Australia is estimated to be $33.06 billion.

However, taking a more preventative approach would yield even better results for businesses. Chronic health issues including heart, lung and kidney disease, along with strokes and diabetes, make up 66 per cent of the burden of illness on the Australian health system, according to The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE). All of these are considered largely preventable.

When selecting corporate healthcare policies, the right plan can allow you to choose to include preventative treatment options including screenings and wellness programs that will decrease the chances of your staff members getting sick further down the line.

The key is knowing where to look. An independent consultancy such as HICA can present you with options on a range of policies and tailor your plan to emphasise the benefits most important to you, and your staff.

Scans and other preventative treatments can help cut absenteeism.Including preventative treatment in your corporate health plan can help cut absenteeism.

What employees want from corporate health plans

Your employees are a great resource when planning what to include in a corporate health plan. Ultimately they're the ones who the cover is going to benefit, so it needs to feel relevant to them, and reflect their desires. Here are a few of the most important trends to consider:

1. Corporate health insurance is still a priority

By 2020 millennials will make up 50 per cent of the workforce, according to PwC's Millennials at work report, and this group has clear expectations of what it wants from employers. While much is changing - for example, this demographic desires a flexible approach to work - one area of consistency is found with health cover provision.

When asked what attracts them to an employer, 31 per cent of the millennials surveyed listed good benefits, while 8 per cent named free private health care outright as the most valued employee benefit.

Employers hoping to attract and retain the best of the emerging millennial workforce should seriously consider investing in a comprehensive corporate health insurance package.  

2. Customisation is key

However, for forward-thinking employers, the PwC report has another key takeaway when it comes to providing benefits to staff. Nearly three quarters of millennials stated that the ability to customise their benefits would be an incentive when picking between job offers.

Put yourself in the shoes of your staff: if you were purchasing individual health cover, you would tailor your plan to your own unique needs. So if you were choosing between businesses where one presented a one-size-fits-all approach and another that catered more to your specific requirements, you would likely favour the latter.

Implementing flexible policies may seem complex, but not if the best options are laid out before you. HICA can complete a no obligation consultation for you, taking into account the specific requirements of your business, and what you want out of your plan.

Including mental health benefits should be a priority for Australian bosses.Mental health problems are common in the Australian workforce.

3.  Mental health cover

In research produced by beyondblue, 75 per cent of Australian employees said their workplace should offer support to staff experiencing anxiety or depression.

Mental health is a leading cause of absenteeism in the workplace, but even if staff don't take time off when they're suffering mentally, it still costs the economy up to $6.1 billion a year. This phenomenon is known as presenteeism, where an employee's productivity is reduced by the psychological problems they're facing.

Given that Generation Z (ages 18-24) has been shown by the Australian Genetics of Depression Study to have the highest rates of anxiety, sleep disturbance and depression among the population, this again doesn't seem to be a problem that will disappear any time soon.

Including mental health benefits in your corporate health package should therefore be a priority if you hope to create a productive and contented culture among your staff.

Again, the question is where to look. There are 35 registered health funds in Australia, each offering a great deal of choice to employers looking to invest in corporate health packages. This variety is great, but can also make the process of finding the perfect solution more time consuming.

This is where HICA comes in. We can use our years of experience working with businesses to narrow down the cover plans, and present you only with the ones we think are best suited to your requirements. For more information, get in touch with our team today.