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Top employee healthcare trends to watch out for in 2018

Employers today are better at recognising the value of prioritising the health and well-being of their employees. Decreased long-term costs, increased productivity and improved employee satisfaction are just some of the benefits that come with a healthy workforce.

With the new year just around the corner, Human Resources asked HR leaders from Digi, Schneider Electric, HP, and ABB to share some of their insights on the top healthcare and wellness trends to expect for the coming year:

1. Total well-being

The scope of employee health and well-being has notably expanded beyond physical health to include mental health, nutrition options and stress management, among others.

Sulaxmi Prasad, head of performance, rewards and analytics at Digi Telecommunications predicts an increase in popularity of proactive wellness programmes that do not stop at providing gym subscriptions. Prasad commented: “Smart employers will soon promote good eating habits through on-site nudges to eat healthy, and also provide subsidised support for nutrition consulting.”

The importance of financial well-being as an element in holistic wellness has also emerged as a trend, with employers placing more emphasis on the financial needs of their staff.

“Financial well-being directly impacts mental, physical and spiritual well-being," Prasad points out.

She adds: "In fact, subsidising a part of education loans for employees just joining the workforce could become prevalent as a benefit to attract fresh graduates.”

2. Personalised healthcare

By promoting healthcare packages that are tailored to individual employees, companies are able to see a higher employee engagement rate that results in lower healthcare costs.

Linda Lim, director of rewards solutions at Schneider Electric, states that by leveraging on analytics and technology, the company saw a strong correlation between health screen participation and lower hospitalisation rate.

Schneider Electric has sought to provide more personalised healthcare packages to its staff and have since reaped the benefits:

“We observed a significant dip in healthcare claims since the implementation of flexible benefits where employees are encouraged and empowered to take charge of their health and well-being,” she told Human Resources.

ALSO READ: Why employees in Malaysia are so unhealthy

3. Company-wide wellness practices

More and more employers today are implementing healthcare and wellness strategies into employee experience as a whole. For example, office designs have become adapted towards a culture of healthy living, introducing elements such as standing desks, on-site gyms and recreation programmes.

Derrick Lim, training and employee engagement lead at HP Inc, Singapore, calls this the ‘feel-good factor’. He believes that having employees who feel good about the company they work in will ultimately be beneficial for the health and performance of the company.

He said that the aim for employers now is to assess what constitutes this ‘feel-good factor’ and the steps that can be taken to improve the company’s happiness index.

Lim added: “The more you understand the factors that affect employees' happiness index, whether it is their health, mental well-being or the food quality that is available in the office canteen, the better you will be able to gauge the contribution, or at least reduce the tendency for an employee to look for better employment benefits elsewhere. Companies are more likely to retain employees if their ‘feel-good factor’ is high.”

4. Strategic healthcare cost management

With rising healthcare costs, businesses are placing an importance on controlling these expenses, while at the same time providing care services that are accessible and that encourage participation amongst employees.

Janice Ong, pension and benefits director at ABB Singapore, predicts that employers will continue to face challenges in containing the costs that come with sustaining healthcare programmes.

On the ways that ABB is tackling these rising costs, she said: “We are driving a more proactive long term approach on managing these challenges by working closely with our vendors to track risks and exposures, review our insurance program funding strategy and continue to drive the implementation of our global health strategy.”

Photo / 123RF

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