IMPROVING MORALE AND THE OVERALL WELLBEING OF EMPLOYEES is crucial for any business, but particularly those in high-pressure environments like a veterinary practice.
Far from just a recruitment tool, employee benefits are recognised as an effective method of improving staff morale and retention, and there are a wide range of health benefits available to employees to help them maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind.
One popular option is a healthcare cash plan, a type of insurance policy which pays employees tax-free cash back towards everyday healthcare such as dental treatment, eye tests, glasses and contact lenses and physiotherapy.
Here are four compelling reasons why you can’t afford to ignore the benefits:
1. Healthy bodies, healthy minds
A 2015 survey by the BVA and RCVS shows that reducing stress is the single biggest priority for veterinary surgeons and students, above increasing recognition for the profession.
It’s a topic that has been discussed many times before within the sector; the suicide rate among vets is twice that of doctors and dentists, and four times the rate among the general population. It’s a damning indictment that should raise alarm bells for employers in the high-pressure veterinary profession.
There is more to a cash plan than simply protecting the physical wellbeing of employees. Supporting employees’ health and finances can help reduce pressures outside of work and improve their mental wellbeing.
Some packages include an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which offers confidential support and counselling on a range of personal or work-related issues, such as finances, careers, family or legal issues. Crucially, with a cash plan staff can feel supported inside and outside the workplace. This valuable combination of financial and emotional support can help employees through difficult times, contributing to the overall wellbeing of the entire workforce – not to mention helping organisations to meet their duty of care obligations.
2. Increased productivity and morale
Of course it takes much more than a cash plan to ensure productivity but a happy worker is a productive worker. According to research, 93% of businesses believe that healthier employees are more productive. Health benefits can incentivise employees, boost morale and demonstrate an employer’s commitment to their wellbeing.
3. Reduced absence
Reducing absence is often the primary reason why many businesses offer employee benefits and it is easy to see why. Absence through sickness costs UK businesses around £16 billion, with an average cost of sickness calculated at £554 per employee per year, and an average annual absence of 6.9 days per employee.5 It remains one of the single biggest threats to productivity in UK industry.
A cash plan not only helps employees to afford their everyday healthcare, but it also encourages them to seek treatment and faster diagnosis so they can return to work more quickly.
4. Value for money
Cash plans offer an affordable and cost-effective way to reward and support a workforce, giving employees tax-free cash back against the cost of private or NHS healthcare – and at a fraction of the cost of private medical insurance (PMI).
With flexible cover to suit all budgets offered by most leading providers, the benefits available to employees far outweigh the actual cost of cash plans to employers and the premiums are classed as a business expense, therefore reducing tax.
What’s more, they can also deliver significant savings compared to putting standalone provisions in place, giving staff access to a wide range of healthcare under one roof.
- Vet Futures survey, 2015 – a joint project of the BVA and RCVS.
- Pete Wedderburn, The Telegraph – March 2010.
- Willis, The Willis Health & Productivity Survey Report – 2014.
- XpertHR – October 2015.
- CIPD Absence Management Annual Survey Report 2015.