After a period when the competition for talent has been fiercer than ever, employers will be thankful that conditions in the labour market are expected to improve in 2023.
But while pressure on the human resources frontline might be easing, companies will know that the war for talent is far from over. Factors such as skills shortages, long-term absence and the pressure on pay amid the cost-of-living crisis are still continuing to create challenges in recruitment and retention.
Against this backdrop, organisations remain focused on creating an employment offering that is both appealing for applicants in today’s labour market and valued by the existing workforce. Employee benefits are an important part of this multi-layered mix, and private medical insurance (PMI) is often highlighted as a premium perk in job descriptions designed to entice top applicants.
To an employer, the value of providing access to private healthcare might seem self-evident, but how is this benefit really regarded among prospective and established employees? Here, we explore some different perspectives to illuminate how PMI can deliver valuable ROI.
An answer to NHS concerns
Employees are exposed to a relentless stream of headlines documenting the difficulties facing the NHS. In July, the number of people waiting to start routine hospital treatment in England reached 7.68 million, which is the highest number since records began.
While support for the founding principles of the NHS remains strong, people are generally concerned over the service it is able to provide, with public confidence at a record low. Around two-thirds (63%) think the general standard of care has deteriorated and a similar proportion (62%) expect standards to continue to decline. In this context, private healthcare can provide employees with reassuringly swift access to consultations and treatments.
A sign of company culture
Many companies talk about the importance of staff wellbeing, and employees are increasingly keen to understand how these values manifest themselves within the organisation’s culture and activities. Where promises don’t live up to reality, companies are likely to stand accused of ‘wellbeing washing’.
Indeed, more than a third (38%) of employees are estimated to consider their employer guilty of wellbeing washing, and this figure rises to more than half for Gen Z (54%) and Millennials (52%).
Private healthcare, whether in the form of PMI or cash plans, can help underline that an employer is not just interested in the health and wellbeing or their workforce but also prepared to invest in it on their behalf.
A point of difference
While it is rising in popularity, access to private healthcare still remains the reserve of the few and not the many.
One study that asked individuals about their experiences of the past year found that one in eight Britons had used private healthcare for either themselves or a member of their immediate household. Among that number, a quarter (25%) had used a work-based private health scheme and 14% claimed on private medical insurance.
These figures underline the sense of exclusivity attached to private healthcare benefits, making them a potentially valuable point of differentiation in a competitive labour market.
A benefit for the family
In the wake of the pandemic, where the health of family members was at the forefront of many people’s minds, health cover can be seen as even more valuable where policies provide support for more than just the employed individual.
This fits into a wider picture of shifting work-life balance. Today, employees are not only seeking employers who understand their individual circumstances, but also companies who have policies in place to support their wider personal happiness and wellbeing.
Alongside family-friendly employment policies, the offer of extended medical cover, subsidised PMI premiums or discount vouchers for family members can give companies an opportunity to strengthen the employer-employee relationship and encourage deeper loyalty.
In summary, there is little doubt that workers place significant value on private healthcare as an employee benefit, particularly in the context of an under-strain NHS. Indeed, one survey suggests that PMI is the perk at the top of employees’ wish lists, ranking above increased pension contributions and cost-of-living support.
This underlines the importance of clearly communicating the benefits of health cover to both existing and prospective employees, helping promote retention and enhance your employer appeal as the competition for talent continues.
The information contained within this communication does not constitute financial advice and is provided for general information purposes only. No warranty, whether express or implied is given in relation to such information. Vintage Health or any of its associated representatives shall not be liable for any technical, editorial, typographical or other errors or omissions within the content of this communication.