Changing the primary focus of how employee benefits such as income protection and critical illness are promoted to employees, to be about maintaining good health & wellbeing, with financial protection being a secondary consideration, would be a more engaging proposition for employees, according to RedArc. And this needs to be the priority for employers looking to engage their staff in their employee benefits offering in the coming year.

Whilst the company acknowledges that more than ever before, added-value services are often included in such protection products, RedArc explains that putting added-value services at the very heart of how the benefits are chosen from the outset, and then promoted to employees, would help engage staff more.

Christine Husbands, managing director of RedArc Nurses says: “When a financial payout is the expectation of an employee benefit, we’re already starting from the point of worst-case scenario, and for the many who don’t need to make a financial claim, the benefit can be seen as low priority for something that may never happen.

“Employees are much more engaged with an employee benefit that is a set of useful, day-to-day, health-related services aimed at keeping them well and dealing quickly with issues – such as ill health, bereavement, trauma – with the financial payout becoming the last resort.”

Lack of engagement

Lack of engagement is one of the biggest challenges for employers looking to get value from their benefits. This can be demonstrated by the employee benefits welcome pack given with the best of intentions, opened with enthusiasm on day one of joining, only to go on to collect dust. As the majority of employees don’t make a claim, they potentially won’t engage with some of their benefits throughout the year at all.

Husbands continued: “What if the number of employees making claims was reduced, the average size of each claim was lower, but a much larger number of employees had a really positive reason to engage with their health and wellbeing benefits, perhaps on multiple occasions? That has to be a good outcome for any employer, and is an approach already being embraced by some.

“This reverse thinking, by which we mean, support for health and wellbeing first, financial payout second, is an obvious win-win for employers: added-value services will improve the health and wellbeing of their employees, and early intervention support will nip many situations and illnesses in the bud, before they reach the point of a payout.

Improved view of employer

In these days of difficulties accessing NHS health services, added-value services come to the fore giving real every-day value to employees, making life easier and allowing them to get expert help quickly. Promoting employee benefits solely based on the possibility of a payout has limitations and may not always be completely to the benefit of employer or employee. When added-value is placed at the heart of benefits, research shows that the user has a much-enhanced view of their employer: this is true in the case of 93 per cent of customers who accessed RedArc services via their insurer.

Husbands concluded: “For some time now, those employee benefits that come with the possibility of a financial payout haven’t been widely valued enough. When they’re chosen for their added value, engagement increases exponentially. We need to get to the point where they’re chosen and promoted so that all employees experience the benefits, not just those who are at crisis point and therefore making a financial claim. We’re already starting to see this evolve, and employers who don’t alter their approach risk being left behind.”