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Workers want their employers to meet healthcare needs

Almost half of the employees said they believe employers should provide healthcare for staff by ‘topping up’ the services provided by the NHS

More and more workers expect their employers to provide some sort of healthcare support, according to a new report.

Almost half of the 1,123 employees taking part in a recent survey by multinational risk management, insurance brokerage and advisory firm Willis Towers Watson said they believe employers should provide healthcare for staff by ‘topping up’ the services provided by the NHS. Younger people (those aged between 18 and 34) were more likely to agree with this view than older workers (those aged over 35).

Many employers are currently falling short of these high expectations, however. Just over one-third – 31 per cent – of the older workers (aged between 55 and 64) surveyed said their employers provided enough healthcare; of those aged 45 to 54, 39 per cent agreed that their employer was doing enough. Younger workers fared better, with 59 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 and 57 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 saying their employers provided enough help.

The director of the health and benefits division at Willis Towers Watson, Mike Blake, said the results of the survey demonstrate how a large proportion of employees are seeking better healthcare provision from the companies for which they work.

Part of the reason for this is increased waiting lists for routine operations offered by the NHS, which can mean workers are unable to carry out their duties for months on end while waiting for their health issues to be fixed.

Employers should see this as an opportunity and use the provision of healthcare as a means of boosting job satisfaction and retention amongst workers. Providing some sort of healthcare would also help to keep older workers, who are most likely to require operations and interventions, both active and happy.

Blake pointed out that the official waiting times for many routine and common operations, including knee and hip surgery, are currently at their highest for around a decade. This means businesses that can offer staff private operations as a perk of their employment are highly sought-after by workers.

He added that many firms now offer a combination of private healthcare and wellbeing incentives as part and parcel of a workers’ benefits package to promote continuing health and fitness among employees. He said this is a particularly effective business strategy, as it both promotes good health habits and offers ‘top up’ healthcare provision for those who need it; however, he warned firms to take older workers’ growing healthcare needs into consideration when devising such packages.

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