Category Archives: Benefits

Aon report: UK is in an unprecedented era for private medical cover

  • 2024 Global Medical Trend Rates Report is based on insights from 113 Aon offices that broker, administer or advise on employer-sponsored medical plans
  • Report forecasts the average medical trend rate for 2024 to be 15 percent; up from 8.5 percent in 2023

 

Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm, has released its 2024 Global Medical Trend Rates Report based on insights from 113 Aon offices that broker, administer or advise on employer-sponsored medical plans.

The findings reflect the medical trend expectations of Aon professionals based on their interactions with clients and carriers represented in the portfolio of the firm’s medical plan business in each location. In the UK, the report forecasted the average medical trend rate for 2024 to be 15 percent, up from 8.5 percent in 2023.

The trend rate figures represent the percent increase in the cost of private health care – insured and self-insured – that are anticipated to be required to address projected price inflation, technology advances in the medical field and plan utilisation patterns.

The top medical conditions driving medical plan costs in the UK are:

  • Musculoskeletal and Back Issues
  • Cancer and Tumour Growth
  • Mental Health

Rui Silva, vice president and medical trend leader in Health Solutions for Multinationals at Aon, said: “We have been in a period of remarkable inflationary conditions and economic volatility. The series of shocks affecting economies around the world after the COVID-19 pandemic continue to create an unstable environment for the health care market, despite continued signs of improvement. Volatile conditions will persist.

“Despite uncertainty on how long global inflationary pressures will last, it is clear from the locations surveyed that the medical trend rate will see a sharp rise in 2024 among employer-sponsored medical plans.”

Rachel Western, technical lead, Health Solutions at Aon in the UK, said: “The UK is in an unprecedented era. Private medical cover has always been positioned to work alongside the National Health Service (NHS), but the NHS has its own well documented difficulties, both from a primary and secondary care perspective. At the same time, health awareness, following the pandemic, is at an all-time high. Therefore, there is increased usage of private medical services, both on a self-pay basis and through private medical schemes.

“Utilisation of virtual GPs is also increasing, further exacerbating the pathway as more are recommending private treatment. It is compounded by significant increases in cost of treatment for certain conditions (especially around cancer) due to technological and clinical advancements and people claiming for more complex states of treatment, partly due to the after-effects of treatment delayed by the pandemic.

“All of these contribute to medical inflation, in addition to general inflationary costs driven by the current economic climate. We are at an all-time high trend rate, and this currently shows little or no signs of reducing.”

Western continued:
“With rising trend rates, generally comes rising premiums. The key to managing these costs is to claim less, without reducing levels of cover, or those you cover. To get medical benefits working smarter, not harder, employers can focus on health and wellbeing strategies, particularly ensuring supportive preventative tools are implemented.”

As employer-sponsored medical plans become a larger part of total rewards expenditure and the pressure mounts on accurate forecasting and management of costs, this report will serve as a valuable resource for organisations to plan global budgets and benefits strategies, and to build more resilient workforces for 2024 and beyond.

Globally, Aon has forecasted the average medical trend rate for 2024 to be 10.1 percent, up from 9.2 percent in 2023 and the highest since 2015. The top medical conditions driving medical plan costs globally are:

  1. Cardiovascular
  2. Cancer/Tumour Growth
  3. High Blood Pressure/Hypertension.

Read Aon’s 2024 Global Medical Trend Rate Report here.

About Aon

Aon plc (NYSE: AON) exists to shape decisions for the better — to protect and enrich the lives of people around the world. Our colleagues provide our clients in over 120 countries and sovereignties with advice and solutions that give them the clarity and confidence to make better decisions to protect and grow their business.

Vivup’s EAP Becomes the First in the UK to be EAPA Accredited

The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provided by Vivup is the first EAP in the UK to be accredited by EAPA (Employee Assistance Professionals Association).

The EAPA Accreditation standards have been structured to harmonise with and augment existing guidelines and legislative requirements, notably, those by the UKCP (UK Council for Physiotherapy) and the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy).

The EAP provided by Vivup, also has the prestigious APPTS (Accreditation Programme for Psychological Therapies Services) mark of approval, the highest level of clinical accreditation in the UK. The APPTS is awarded in partnership with the British Psychological Society and the Royal College of Psychiatrists and recognises the wide range of high quality services including counselling, secondary mental health services and wellbeing support offered by Vivup.

For the EAPA accreditation, the EAP recently undertook an assessment process to provide evidence of adherence and upholding the integrity of these standards, which was facilitated by an independent verification process. The advantages of this process include:

  • Allowing the EAP team to introspectively evaluate and refine their professional services
  • Reinforcing trust and instilling confidence among both individual and corporate clients
  • Facilitating continuous improvement by highlighting best practice

Tracey Paxton, Managing Director of Vivup Employee Assistance Programme, commented:

“We are thrilled to have been awarded the first UK EAPA accreditation. This is further evidence to the fact that we continue to provide innovative EAP and Secondary Mental Health Service care and treatment pathways within a robust Clinical Governance Framework. A huge well done to all the team who deliver this important and much needed service.”

Employees continue to struggle with stress, while awareness, utilisation of wellbeing programmes in the workplace remains low

International survey by Alight, Business Group on Health identifies how companies can amplify wellbeing benefits

While employees across the United States and Europe continue to report high levels of stress, a surprising percentage do not take full advantage of their workplace’s wellbeing initiatives, despite employers’ continued prioritisation of these programmes, a new survey has found.

According to findings from Alight and Business Group on Health’s research series, 2022 Alight International Workforce and Wellbeing Mindset Study, close to three-quarters (73%) of workers reported high levels of stress due to such factors as the ongoing pandemic, economic concerns and social unrest. Additionally, more than one-third (34%) of workers reported suffering symptoms of burnout, while only one in three employees said their employer cared about their wellbeing.

“These sentiments demonstrate a disconnect in employees’ views of their workplace wellbeing benefits, as large employers have continued to make significant investments in workforce wellbeing benefits and programmes,” said Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of Business Group on Health.

Just 15% of employees in the United States and the United Kingdom reported being aware of employer-sponsored stress-management programmes. And of those who were aware of the benefit, less than one-quarter (23%) said they used it, even though 32% of employees wanted their employer to offer more mental health resources.

The survey findings identified key areas of opportunity for companies in prioritising the total wellbeing of their workforce and increasing employee awareness and adoption of available wellbeing programmes. These include:

  • Building awareness of available mental health programmes. Creating engaging and personalised programmes through a combination of technology, navigation and communication can boost employee awareness of available and accessible resources.
  • Supporting long-term financial goals and understanding short-term demands. Long-term financial planning remains a challenge for many employees, who need assistance with reducing debt levels, sticking to a budget, saving for more immediate financial needs and having longer-term savings goals. Balanced financial wellbeing programmes that provide smart steps for employees to take today can help boost overall financial wellbeing and reduce one of life’s major stressors.
  • Providing balance and flexibility. The pandemic demonstrated that workers value flexibility and, for those who can, being able to work remotely at least some of the time. More than half of employees (54%) said a flexible work environment differentiated one employer from another, creating an opportunity for employers to set themselves apart from peers. Additionally, more than half (59%) of all workers said being able to work remotely had a positive impact on their

Kantar conducted the research, surveying more than 10,000 employees from February 2022 to March 2022 in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Netherlands. This marked the first time the study included countries outside the United States. Additional reports about the research will be issued later this year.

“Workers worldwide found that COVID-19 intensified challenges to wellbeing,” said Stephan Scholl, CEO of Alight Solutions. “As a result, they sometimes face difficulties in showing up to work as their best selves, which ultimately affects companies’ bottom line. At the same time, caring about employee wellbeing is critical to recruiting and retaining talent.”

“Employers can use this valuable survey data to refine how employees learn about and experience wellbeing initiatives, as well as how to better meet the specific needs of employees,” said Kelsay of Business Group on Health. “Many employers have invested considerably in wellbeing resources in recent years, and a key takeaway from these findings is that there is more they can do to ensure employees are aware of and utilising those offerings.”

Other survey findings:

  • Fewer than half of UK employees (44%) believe their company does an overall good job at communicating with them
  • Only 1 in 10 employees in the UK rated their employee experience as awesome whilst 42% deemed it as okay, pretty bad or awful.
  • Nearly a third (31%) of UK employees would not say great things about their employer given the chance.
  • S. employees tended to have a more positive view of their overall wellbeing than those in Europe. More than half (53%) of U.S. employees rated their overall wellbeing highly, compared to 40% in the U.K.

 

To see how UK employees ranked across this study, download the UK country edition of the 2022 International Workforce and Wellbeing Mindset Study here: alight.com/gb/thought-leadership/alight-international-mindset-study-2022-uk

3 ways to help employees manage financial stress during the cost of living crisis

Written by Ajay Maisuria, Senior Employment Advisor at Vita Health Group

The Bank of England has warned the UK is set to experience its biggest inflation surge in 42 years, one that could slump the nation into a recession comparable to the financial crisis. And people are frightened: Frightened of falling into debt, of having their savings wiped out. Frightened by soaring energy and fuel prices. Frightened and anxious about how they’ll make ends meet.

Given the gravitas of what’s ahead, it’s hardly surprising to hear that financial stress is having a detrimental impact on the mental health, and consequently the productivity, of workers. In fact, as many as two-thirds of UK employees say money worries are affecting their mental health and three-in-five claim financial distress is impacting their performance at work.

The extent to which financial wellbeing impacts mental health, and therefore presenteeism and the ability to work, cannot be underestimated. It is time for employers to take the financial wellbeing of their people seriously.

Worryingly, many employees feel their workplace offers them little or no financial wellbeing support. Research by Wealth at Work found half of working UK adults receive no support from their employer on how to understand their finances. Whilst a separate report from the Building Societies Association (BSA) found only 24% of employees think that their employer cares about their financial wellbeing.

Many employers assume that providing a path to financial wellbeing or security means increasing salaries or awarding large bonuses. Although we’ve already seen some companies offering pay raises and bonuses to their employees as a direct result of the cost of living crisis, it’s important to know that, however helpful, a cash injection is just one of many ways businesses can support their employees through this time.

Here are three simple ways UK workplaces can help their employees manage financial stress:

  1. Normalise talking about finances in the workplace: Most people struggle to admit when they are in trouble, especially if the difficulties they’re facing concern money. When we are worried about a situation, like finances, we tend to avoid talking about it with anyone at home and at work due to fear or feeling overwhelmed. In fact, almost three-quarters of employees said they’ve never spoken to their employer or line manager about financial wellbeing. The longer someone remains stressed, the more their mental health declines and the more detrimental the impact on their productivity, sleep and relationships. Employers can help their staff by normalising the topic of financial wellbeing through existing support mechanisms like Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) which usually include an array of staff benefits including a focus on wellbeing support via counselling or other talking therapies. Employers may wish to consider providing wellbeing advice to employees via internal communications hubs. Forums like this can act as a safe place to talk about money related worries and will help to normalise talking about finances.
  2. Offer flexible working hours: Managers should consider allowing more flexibility for employees who are dealing with high-pressure financial situations during the working day, rather than restricting these conversations to outside working hours or in lunch breaks. Managers could give employees the time to deal with stressful calls or tasks, such as buying a house, or rectifying a missed payment. It could help prevent the build up of anxiety through the rest of the working day. Providing this type of support will help stop the situation spiralling and will, in all likelihood, have a positive impact on the productivity of the employee.
  3.  Tailor the benefit to the employee: Each and every employee will experience different pressures during the cost-of-living crisis. As such different employees will find different benefits helpful to them or the stage of life they are at. For example, a parent may find it helpful to receive additional childcare support. And a graduate may be interested in a salary advance scheme combined with awareness of budgeting towards the next pay date. Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to helping employees with their financial wellbeing. But talking to them and figuring out how to help people individually could be instrumental to improving their financial wellbeing and, ultimately, their overall mental health.

Workplaces play a key role in financial wellbeing. Not only because mental ill health can impact employee performance, but also because of the sheer amount of time we spend at work. Families are already struggling to navigate rising inflation rates and soaring energy and fuel costs – Citizens Advice says the crisis support it’s giving is growing at record breaking levels. Businesses must put their plans into action and make their employees’ financial wellbeing a priority.

Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends Survey 2022 finds that resource, not budget, is new benefit communication barrier

  • 53 percent of employers say reflecting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) in their communications is a priority
  • Communicating through ‘personal channels’ has increased during COVID-19 pandemic
  • Use of video animations, apps and virtual town halls increasing

Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm, has found that UK employers’ main barrier to communicating benefits to their employees is a lack of resource, reflecting the strain many teams are under and the challenges of recruitment and retention.

In Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends Survey 2022, 43 percent of respondents say they have no resource, while 35 percent say they have no budget for benefits communications efforts. Last year, the survey found that 49 percent said they had no budget, while 36 percent said they had no resource.

Results from the survey also show that workplace communication continues to evolve in other ways. For instance, employees have higher expectations of their employer on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) issues. Approximately 53 percent of responding employers say that reflecting DE&I in their benefits packages is a priority. While 58 percent of respondents believe their communications speak to and are representative of their workforce in terms of DE&I, 16 percent say that they could do more. Comments included: “DE&I is an area we need to do a lot more work with – it would be wrong for us to assume we are representative” and “We haven’t reviewed our communications using a DE&I lens, but we’re keen to do so”.

Andy Partridge, senior strategy consultant, Aon, said:

“Nearly all respondents say increasing employee understanding and engagement with their benefits and/or health and financial wellbeing is important. It seems with this in mind, employers are finding ways around resource issues. Although 51 percent of respondents use internal communications teams, 41 percent instead turn to their benefits advisers and providers to help with engagement and communication strategy and design.”

The survey also shows that communication style is another area of change. Unsurprisingly with the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a shift to communicating via webinars, and their usage has increased from 55 percent in 2021 to 69 percent in 2022. However, there is also a greater focus on personal channels, or in-person communications – the use of internal management cascades has increased 6 percent to 45 percent in 2022, while using champion networks, or internal advocates, has increased 11 percent to 33 percent.

The importance of technology is increasingly apparent, with far less reliance on printed communication. While 27 percent of employers continue to use printed communications, video animations, virtual town halls and apps are all now used by 26 percent of employers. Email is in use by 94 percent of respondents, while benefits websites are used by 59 percent of respondents.

Andy Partridge said:

“As employers switch more to digital options, we continue to see expenditure on print – and the volume of it – falling. More than ever, we are working with employers to provide virtual focus groups, animated videos and web deployments. Short and snappy videos are going to be the future of corporate communication. This is where employers are increasingly learning from social media, where short-but-sweet video clips, lasting from 15 seconds to one minute, dominate viewing statistics.”

Another area of change is employee listening. While the majority of employers continue to run quantitative questionnaires/surveys, there is an increasing shift to more frequent pulse surveys to understand people better. Regular engagement surveys are now run by 40 percent of employers, up from just over 30 percent in 2021. Additionally, a small number of firms (3 percent) are looking to run more surveys informed by neuro-science, which tap into the respondent’s unconscious mind to get an unbiased view on how they really feel.

Andy Partridge added:

“While the numbers using neuro-science are currently small, we expect this to be a growing area as more employers look to unearth what employees really think and feel about issues and to help build a more resilient workforce. It’s interesting that 42 percent of employer respondents do not feel their benefits are meeting the needs of their employees and only 13 percent feel their communication is very effective. But using technology and modern methods of employee listening are key ways to provide clarity and confidence to make better decisions.”

Aon’s annual UK Benefits and Trends Survey shows trends in employer benefits strategies, highlighting issues experienced by employers and employees. In its 12th year, the survey took into account the experiences of 253 HR, employee benefit and reward professionals from across the UK in a variety of sectors. Among respondents, 17 percent stated their organisation employs more than 5,000 people; 33 percent employ between 1,001 and 5,000 people; 13 percent employ 501 to 1,000 people; 10 percent employ 251 to 500, and 27 percent employ fewer than 250 people.

More information about how Aon helps businesses build resilient workforces is available here. To access Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends Survey 2022, click here.

About Aon

Aon plc (NYSE: AON) exists to shape decisions for the better — to protect and enrich the lives of people around the world. Our colleagues provide our clients in over 120 countries with advice and solutions that give them the clarity and confidence to make better decisions to protect and grow their business.

Less than half of UK employers are prioritising heart-related health conditions: Aon’s Benefits and Trends Survey 2022

  • Heart disease remains number one cause of death for males in the UK*
  • Stress is top concern for employers, followed by depression and anxiety
  • Women’s health is the third biggest concern for employers

Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm, has found that UK employers are nearly twice as likely to be concerned about employee stress than heart-related health conditions, even though heart disease remains the number one cause of death for males in the UK*. Ninety-six percent of employers are concerned about stress in the workplace, while just 44 percent are concerned about heart disease.

Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends Survey 2022 shows that employers are most concerned about stress (96 percent), depression and anxiety (89 percent), women’s health (73 percent), muscoloskeletal conditions (67 percent) and men’s health (67 percent). They place heart-related conditions, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes at 44 percent, 40 percent, 36 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

Mark Witte, principal, Health and Risk, Aon, said:

“It isn’t surprising that stress is the highest concern for employers, given the increased pressures people have faced at home and work over the past two years. Indeed, figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)** show there were approximately 602,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety during 2018/19. By 2020/21, numbers had risen to 822,000 – a 38 percent increase.

“At the other end of the scale, employers are less concerned about heart-related conditions, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. This is somewhat concerning as heart disease remains the number one cause of death for males in the UK, according to the Office of National Statistics, and poor lifestyles giving rise to these health issues are risk factors for a multitude of other conditions.”

Aon’s survey also shows a trend of UK employers focusing on the prevention of health issues through healthcare spend, recognising good practices that help build a resilient workforce as well as showing sound economic sense. Seventy-eight percent of employers are focusing their spend on prevention, 50 percent on detection of ill health and early intervention, 43 percent on access to treatment and 23 percent on long-term support, illustrating investment that correlates with where employees are most likely to be in their health journey.

An employer health and wellbeing programme consists of many components, according to survey respondents. Seventy-three percent of employers focus on communications, aligning with the theme of prevention is better than a cure. The next most common components relate to supporting mental health (mental health awareness training at 69 percent and mental health first aid training at 63 percent).

Mark Witte adds: “General wellbeing appears lower on employers’ list of priorities, with fewer supporting employees in areas such as physical activity (48 percent), nutrition (44 percent) smoking cessation (25 percent) or weight loss programmes (16 percent).

“Improving lifestyle behaviours and detecting the early signs of ill-health deserve parity with other dimensions of wellbeing. In our view, physical wellbeing should remain a focus for all wellbeing strategies, especially given the significant physical, emotional and financial impact conditions can have for the individual and those around them both at home and in the workplace. A holistic approach to wellbeing will be most effective in building a resilient workforce.”

Aon’s annual survey shows trends in employer benefits strategies, highlighting issues experienced by employers and employees. In its 12th year, the survey took into account the experiences of 253 HR, employee benefit and reward professionals from across the UK in a variety of sectors. Seventeen percent of respondents stated their organisation employs more than 5,000 people; 33 percent employ between 1,001 and 5,000 people; 13 percent employ 501 to 1,000 people; 10 percent employ 251 to 500 and 27 percent employ fewer than 250 people.

More information about how Aon helps businesses build resilient workforces is available here. To access Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends Survey 2022, click here.

* Office of National Statistics (ONS)

**  https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf

About Aon

Aon plc (NYSE: AON) exists to shape decisions for the better — to protect and enrich the lives of people around the world. Our colleagues provide our clients in over 120 countries with advice and solutions that give them the clarity and confidence to make better decisions to protect and grow their business.

Breeze Motor Group selects Bridge Health & Wellbeing as their new employee wellbeing partner

Dorset-based Bridge Health & Wellbeing is delighted to have been chosen by Breeze Motor Group to support their new staff wellbeing plan.

Breeze Motor Group is a family-owned and managed motor business. Since opening their first Volkswagen passenger car showroom in 2000, the company has grown to include Volkswagen Van Centres in Poole, Southampton and Portsmouth, Coastal Car Sales in Poole and Bournemouth TPS. They have recently opened their first Breeze Suzuki dealership in Poole.

People have always been at the heart of the Breeze business. But with the management team very aware of the difficulties staff have faced over the past two years, the company was keen to do even more to support their talented team.

Mark Langford, Managing Director at Breeze Motor Group, said, “As a major local employer, we want to offer a best-in-class employee experience, and we know that means supporting our staff with their health and wellbeing. Through our new wellbeing plan, all employees will be able to access support from Bridge Health & Wellbeing, as well as a range of other services to support both their physical and mental health.”

Supporting staff health and wellbeing is vital for maximising staff retention and minimising time lost to employee sickness but, for Mark and his management team, it is much more than that. “When we welcome a new employee to Breeze, they become part of the family. We work hard to achieve our business goals but also recognise the importance of having fun along the way. Having happy and healthy staff means we can ensure our customers have the best possible experience every time they visit us.”

Paul O’Connell, lead physiotherapist and co-founder of Bridge Health & Wellbeing, added, “Mark and I met at a local business networking event, and I was pleased to hear him talk passionately about supporting his staff. As partners for their employee wellbeing programme, we will be providing physiotherapy assessment and follow up for any members of staff that need it. Over the coming months, we hope to add sports massage services and then potentially Pilates, yoga and other wellbeing classes on-site, depending on staff demand.

Health and wellbeing at work are vitally important. As an employer, you want your staff to be engaged, productive, happy and, most importantly, healthy. We work with businesses across Dorset to improve sickness rates, support people in work, improve productivity and demonstrate how much companies care about their most important asset – their people.”

Bridge Health & Wellbeing provides physiotherapy, chiropractic, sports massage, rehabilitation services, Pilates and yoga classes from their state-of-the-art fitness space on Bridge Street in Christchurch, Dorset. Their team of experts can help you get better, build strength and feel happy and healthy in your mind and body. To find out more or book your appointment, visit www.bridgehw.com or call 01202 473800.

2022 will bring a next generational shift in employee benefits and wellbeing for SMEs says Howden

A once in a generation shift in employee benefits and wellbeing is expected this year, as SMEs review their benefits and wellbeing programmes in response to the pandemic or look to invest in benefits for the first time, says Mark Fosh, Divisional Director, Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing.

Fosh says, “We will see a seismic shift in employee benefits and wellbeing. Businesses of all sizes are reviewing their benefits on a scale we have not seen for a long time. What worked pre-Covid may not be right for the new world of work where remote and flexible working are more common-place and workers are experiencing different health and wellbeing challenges as a result of the pandemic.’’

“SMEs need to ensure their benefits are fit for purpose, now and for the future, and provide value for money. And for organisations new to benefits, they need to consider the best approach to support their business and employees. In 2022, there will be more focus on recruiting and retaining talented employers so benefits will play a significant role in attracting and keeping staff.”

In December 2021, the Centre for Economic Performance[i] reported that half of businesses are struggling to recruit staff. Increasing numbers of people are leaving their jobs and one in five employers are raising the issue of how to retain staff.

According to new data from MetLife’s Re:me report, a focus on employee benefits could support retention, as they highlight that one in two workers would sacrifice more of their basic salary to get a personalised employee benefits package[ii].

One notable trend is greater numbers of SMEs providing access to private healthcare – against the backdrop of growing NHS waiting times for diagnosis and treatment.

Fosh commented: “A growing numbers of SMEs are considering offering access to some form of employer-funded healthcare to their people. Protection benefits such as life assurance, income protection and healthcare focused benefits such as private medical insurance (PMI) and virtual GPs are becoming popular features within revised benefit offerings.”

“Private medical insurance often costs less than SMEs think, and regularly tops the list of benefits employees value the most. It can be a cost-effective solution; giving both employers and employees peace of mind that they can access the support they need, when they need it most.”

Steve Herbert, Head of Benefits Strategy, Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing believes financial education and wellbeing will be another focus for SMEs.

Herbert says, “A big challenge in 2022 will be the growing financial pressures upon employees. Many will face a cost-of-living crisis, made worse by further interest rate increases and the rising retail price index. This will put additional demands on employees when some are already feeling the pinch. Equipping staff with workplace financial education could help them to better plan their financial futures and alleviate money worries.”

Herbert concludes, “We recommend that companies start the New Year with a review to ensure they are offering the most appropriate benefits for employees, as well as making the most of their existing investment into benefits.

“Many benefit policies such PMI and Group Income Protection often include value added features such as Employee Assistance Programmes or virtual GPs as standard, which may be under used. And following the pandemic, many insurers have reviewed their products to add digital solutions or new features to meet employees’ changing needs. As SMEs look beyond the pandemic, now is a real opportunity for employers to rethink their approach to benefits and wellbeing.”

For SMEs investing in benefits for the first time in 2022, there are a wide range of options available. Howden has created a useful guide to help set out the options. Click here to download the guide.

For more information, please visit www.howdengroup.co.uk

 

[i] https://news.sky.com/story/half-of-businesses-struggling-to-recruit-because-of-skills-gap-survey-finds-12495086

[ii] https://employeebenefits.co.uk/50-staff-would-give-up-more-salary-benefits/

Aon: Over half of UK organisations are reviewing benefits for inclusivity

Research from Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm, reveals that over half of UK organisations (52 percent) are planning to, or are already, reviewing their compensation and benefits programmes to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.

Aon’s 7th Pulse Survey also found that three in four organisations say driving DE&I in the workplace is at the top of their mind when planning for the future of work.

However, Aon has advised that more organisations need to consider DE&I when planning benefits and initiatives, considering the value the benefits package brings and whether it meets the needs of all of employees.

Aon’s recent Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace whitepaper highlighted the needs of different individuals when planning benefits and initiatives. These examples include:

  • Under the Shariah laws for individuals following the Islamic faith, earning interest from and investing in funds which derive a profit from the sale of alcohol, tobacco and gambling is prohibited. This makes pension investment in most investment funds out of reach for individuals of the Islamic faith.
  • In Aon’s 2021 DC and Financial Wellbeing research, a worrying disparity was found among women’s and men’s financial health. Women are less likely to be high earners, less likely to have money for savings after outgoings and are over 60 percent more likely than men to expect to never be able to afford to retire.
  • For the disabled, pre-existing conditions can often be an exclusion to health plans and can limit their ability to make full use of health benefits.

Avneet Kaur, principal, Health Solutions EMEA, Aon, said: “One of the initial steps on the journey to inclusive health and wellbeing benefit design is to take stock of the current situation, and ask questions like: What is the composition of your current workforce? How does DE&I align with your business vision and purpose?

“It’s important to review your health and wellbeing benefits to provide clarity and confidence to make better decisions ensuring the diverse needs of your employees are supported while creating a consistent employee experience. Also, review recruitment, mobility and career progression policies and procedures. For instance, do they display any systemic biases or inhibitory processes? By establishing and maintaining good diversity and inclusion practices, companies will be better able to build a resilient workforce, with DE&I crucial in both attracting and retaining talent and key stakeholders.”

Matthew Lawrence, chief broking officer, Health Solutions EMEAAon, added: “DE&I should be a key component of an organisation’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda; we fully anticipate factors such as employee welfare and mental wellbeing to become as important to investors as other areas such as board diversity and pay equity.

“As ever in an increasingly interconnected world, what happens in the HR and benefits world impacts risk managers and certain general insurances. Thinking about these issues and the impact they can have in the broadest possible way will lay the foundation for a positive long-term impact.

The Aon Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace whitepaper can be viewed here. Aon conducted its seventh Pulse survey from April 20-28, 2021, with 400 human resources leaders and professionals responding within the UK and 1,451 responding globally. Complete study results, across multiple geographies and industries, are available here.


About Aon

Aon plc (NYSE: AON) exists to shape decisions for the better — to protect and enrich the lives of people around the world. Our colleagues provide our clients in over 120 countries with advice and solutions that give them the clarity and confidence to make better decisions to protect and grow their business.

Top tips from Howden on supporting employee’s wellbeing through the festive season

The NHS Confederation[i]  has warned that mental health problems are growing at an ‘alarming’ rate in England, with 1 in 6 adults having experienced some form of depression in summer 2021, exacerbated by the pandemic.

Mark Fosh, Divisional Director at Howden said, “The festive season is meant to be a wonderful time of year; however, it can bring a lot of extra stress and worry. Many employees are balancing work pressures with family duties and add to this financial worries and fears about the new Omicron variant.

This year, offering support to people over the holidays season is so important and could make a big difference to employee wellbeing and ensure your people return to work in 2022 refreshed, motivated and ready to hit the ground running.”

Here are Howden’s top tips to support employee wellbeing this festive season:

Encourage employees to ‘switch off’ – An ‘always on’ culture has been exacerbated by the pandemic as the boundaries between home and work have blurred. Encouraging employees to switch off and take a break has never been more important. Spending time with family and friends and catching up on sleep are key ingredients for good wellbeing.

Be aware of ‘Divorce Day’ -The first working Monday after the festive break has been named ‘Divorce Day’ due to family lawyers reporting higher than usual enquiries on this day. While relationship issues are personal, the impact of a divorce can be difficult for employees to manage, with prolonged periods of stress leading to depression and anxiety. Being mindful of this, employers can remind employees of support services that could help people going through relationship troubles including a divorce, such as Mental Health First Aiders and the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which offers mental health, financial planning and legal support.

Festive money worries – The average UK family will spend an average £821.25[ii]  in the run up to the festive season. Money worries can cause anxiety, stress and depression. Promoting support services such as EAPs, Citizens Advice, Step Change and the National Debt Line could help employees. Also, businesses could consider running a financial wellbeing programme in 2022, to give employees the tools and know-how to make informed financial decisions.

Support employees’ mental health – Be mindful of employees who might not be coping well over the festive period. Look out for uncharacteristic behaviour such as missing deadlines, someone acting more quietly or aggressively or frequently turning up late. Ensure help and support are in place as this will help to reduce absences. Benefits such as EAPs. Virtual GPs and Mental Health First aiders can be used as a first line of defence. Also, promote mental health support available through charities such as Mind, the Samaritans and Victim Support.

Signpost employees to their employee benefits – Often employees don’t know what benefits are available, so why not send out a reminder over the festive period? Use end of year communications to provide a useful summary of the benefits and support on offer and importantly, how employees can access them when they need them.

Encourage health activities – A combination of lack of exercise and overdoing the festive treats can have a detrimental impact on physical wellbeing. Encourage employees to stay active over the festive break, for example by going out for daily walks.  This can also help them cope with any extra pressure over the festive period.

In the New Year why not set up a workplace health challenge such as walking, running or cycling? This can be a great way to get teams involved in some friendly and healthy competition, encourage better health habits and boost employees’ wellbeing.

Finally, a simple thank you can go a long way – When employees are snowed under and pressure is high, it can be easy to forget the importance of saying thank you. A small but important gesture that lets people know their efforts are noticed and appreciated can really boost morale and motivation.

To find out more about looking after employees’ mental health and wellbeing or request an employee benefits review, to make sure they are still fit for purpose for 2022, get in touch with Howden.

For more information, please visit www.howdengroup.co.uk


[i] https://www.nhsconfed.org/articles/increase-demand-mental-health-support-being-felt-across-system

[ii] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-shopping-christmas-forecast-british-consumers-brexit-a8031606.html