Our 14th annual healthcare research reflects the pressures many employers are experiencing because of the current economic climate. As the UK has once again entered into recession, more than half of our respondents say they have come under increased pressure to reduce costs over the past 12 months.
To tackle this pressure, employers appear to be continuing with a trend we have seen in other benefits areas over the past year and putting the squeeze on providers and brokers to secure a better deal. For example, 40% have reviewed their healthcare benefits providers for this reason, while 39% have rebroked their insurance benefits and 24% have reviewed the fees or commission they pay to brokers, advisers or providers for healthcare benefits.
With costs under such close scrutiny in so many organisations, it is a little surprising that a high percentage of respondents continue to fail to measure the return on investment (ROI) on their healthcare benefits spend. This year, just 11% say they do so. Although a further 21% claim they intend to begin measuring ROI in this area, this figure has remained fairly static over the past five years, suggesting many employers are failing to convert these intentions into action.
Employers are not the only ones coming under greater pressure as a result of the current economic climate. Issues such as higher living costs, debt problems and job uncertainty are all contributing to employees’ stress levels, both in and out of the workplace. Employers appear to be recognising this issue and are taking steps to counteract employee stress, be it due to work-related or personal issues.
This is reflected in the rise in the percentage of respondents that have implemented specific benefits and strategies to reduce stress in the workplace. This year, 52% say they have done so, which is almost double the 28% that said the same last year. Although stress can be a difficult issue to identify and address, doing so can help to improve staff productivity and morale, as well as reduce sickness absence levels.
– Debbie Lovewell Deputy editor, Employee Benefits magazine