Impact of COVID on health services
The NHS has made heroic efforts to maintain services during the pandemic. Inevitably, rising numbers of COVID-19 cases has resulted in disruptions to health and care services delivered by GPs, hospitals, specialists and community staff.
This has led to a significant rise in planned care waiting lists. For example, over 100,000 people were waiting for an urgent operation by the end of January 2021.
While this is a societal challenge for the nation, it has significant implications on your employees’ wellbeing and for your employee benefits.
COVID has accelerated the digital transformation in healthcare with the wider adoption of telehealth, virtual GPs and digital therapies for example. In addition, a reform has been launched to better equip the health and care services to meet the longer-term health and societal challenges.
By establishing technology as a better platform to support staff and patient care, it will reduce legal bureaucracy and improve integration, innovation and response.
The forgotten ‘C’
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally and is particularly close to our heart. Macmillan estimates that more than 650,000 people with cancer in the UK (22%) have experienced disruption to their cancer treatment or care because of the pandemic. This includes the many thousands that may not be in active treatment but still require follow up care and support following an earlier diagnosis.
The strain on our health services has created a greater demand for employers to support those living with a diagnosis and caring for loved ones. Cancer is just one example, but what about those facing other chronic health conditions who are also awaiting a diagnosis or experiencing treatment delays or cancelations?
Anxiety and fear will be heightened for many of your employees. How you choose to support them will impact how motivated and productive they are in the workplace.
Effective and efficient health-related benefits
The pandemic has also affected private medical services, with many facilities being used to support the NHS. Individuals who have access to private healthcare via their employee benefits or life insurance are likely to have experienced some difficulties or limitations.
As a result, they may question the value of the benefit or insurance policy and feel stressed or frustrated about not getting support that they’re entitled to. This can have an adverse impact on employers who may see an increase in sickness or absence rates.
We can expect to see employee wellbeing and benefit strategies move further towards proactive initiatives. Our latest research revealed that nearly 1 in 5 employers are considering health-related benefits such as chronic disease management, resilience training and prevention over the next 18 months.
Proactive support for employees
Employees may need additional help and information during these uncertain times. If you can’t adapt your employee benefits at the moment – maximise what you can offer:
- Increase communications of your benefits or explore if you can open access to certain benefits outside of your benefits window
- Ensure managers and team leaders are regularly checking-in on employees’ work and home life
- Be sure that managers feel confident to signpost employees to the right resources and support
It can be difficult to navigate employee benefits at the best of times. But can you help your employees to navigate and coordinate their benefits? Can you connect them to other resources or services that might be useful?
By taking a proactive approach you will reduce absence rates and achieve greater cost efficiency from your benefits.