In good news for employees, 43% of employers intend to increase their investment to provide support for staff in the next 12 months. GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector, believes this finding, from its recent research, demonstrates that employers see the benefit in supporting staff, and are prepared to fund it.

Funding support directly is a concern

GRiD, however, is concerned that 37% of employers are planning to fund support for their staff directly. It’s both better value and easier to ensure consistency in quality if the budget is invested in support from an established employee benefits provider. By providing support on a more ad-hoc or needs-based approach, employers risk inadvertent inequality: where support is predetermined and contracted, such as to a group risk insurer, all employees have access to the same and equal support without preference, prejudice or discrimination.

Support available to more staff

The research also found that a greater number of staff are likely to have access to workplace support over the coming year than they do currently: 44% of employers are looking to extend their provision to more of their workforce. As health issues do not discriminate by role or seniority, it is a good idea for employers to offer support to all staff.

In addition, providing a comprehensive benefits package is also beneficial in reducing staff turnover improving retention and, if staff are both happy and healthy, increasing productivity – throughout an organisation. Enhancing support, therefore, via employee benefits is a win-win for the employer and the employee alike.

Communication of employee benefits

The utilisation of employee benefits is largely driven by effective communication of the support available, so GRiD is pleased to report that over the next 12 months:

·       43% of employers will encourage greater engagement and utilisation of support

·       40% will make it easier to access support and benefits, such as via apps/online

·       40% will increase their communication of the support available to staff

Effective and regular communication is essential as many employees are not receptive to, and do not fully engage with, employee benefits until they have a real need. If communication is sporadic or untargeted, they may not be aware of what is available at a time when they need it most.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “Based on these findings, the landscape for employee support is looking positive. We would, however, encourage employers to discuss their approach with experts, both providers and intermediaries, to keep abreast of developments in this fast-changing industry to ensure that the support they offer is both competitive and appropriate. Increased investment is good, but any budget must be spent wisely to get value.”