HEALTHCARE EMPLOYEE WELLNESS RETENTION
APAC – More employers in Asia are using health benefits as a key retention strategy to combat high staff turnover, even though the cost of doing so remains a challenge.
The Asia Pacific (APAC) Total Health and Choice Benefits report by Mercer found that 35% of around 900 employers spend more than 6% of their payroll budget on staff health benefits packages. Another one in 10 would spend more than 15%. However, larger companies are looking to share these costs with their employees.
Despite rising medical costs, employers are unwilling to cut corners on healthcare benefits, with 52% regarding it a key attraction and retention strategy. Two in five respondents also listed taking care of their employees’ wellbeing as a top priority as healthy staff have higher productivity and performance (60%).
“Employers are finally making the linkage between health, productivity and cost,” said Michael Hilton, Mercer’s benefits consulting leader for health and benefits in APAC.
Christine Owen, Mercer’s health management leader for health and benefits in APAC, added employers are increasingly placing “greater importance” on integrated health programmes. Their “prime focus” would be on “retaining key talent, containing costs and improving productivity”, Owen said.
Companies are also going the extra mile to keep employees happy with their benefits programme. More than half of respondents have extended health management programmes to employees’ children while 40% include spouses in the initiatives and 13% would cover parents.
The most popular healthcare packages offered were annual checkups (84%), biometric screening tests (59%) and health talks or fairs (49%). Respondents added that they were looking at including health risk assessment questionnaires (47%), stress management (46%) and chronic disease management (43%) in their health programmes over the next two years.
Some employers are also giving their staff more say in the types of healthcare packages they receive, with 19% offering some degree of choice in benefits. The top three sectors that offer choice in this group include financial services (24%), technology (23%) and professional services (29%).
Respondents said implementing flexible benefits has helped their company maintain market competitiveness (21%), meet diverse employee needs (20%) and move towards a total rewards structure (17%).
However, 40% of respondents would like to increase their benefit choices, 10% want to simplify the structure and 9% would prefer a simpler administration process to help lower costs.
Aside from medical and life insurance, typical choices offered in flexible benefits include gym membership, health and fitness programmes, vacations and personal development to address Generation Y employees’ needs.
Regionally, Chinese employers are the most likely to offer employees choice, with a fifth of them already doing so. Singapore came in a close second with 19%, followed by Hong Kong (17%).
However, 39% of employers in APAC still adopt a “one-size-fits-all” benefits policy while 42% would vary their programmes for different employee grades without providing options.
But 59% of respondents that do not offer options in their benefits package intend to do so within three years.
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