Employee healthcare benefits are going to undergo a drastic revamp in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the recent past, employee benefit policies were limited to health insurance and exclusive perks restricted only to employees of large corporates, enterprises, and matured start-ups. The pandemic and the urgencies that were borne out of the situation led to a positive and much needed change of making healthcare accessible to employees from all segments, and to include more benefits to build a healthier and happier workforce. These changes promise a healthier workforce, resulting in an increase in productivity and retention. Here is how it could benefit businesses and individuals in the long run.
1. Focus on preventive healthcare
Preventive healthcare which includes disease prevention have become a focal point for employee healthcare during the pandemic. Individuals are now seeking better immunity before illness or disease strikes – not only to avoid the hefty costs incurred thereafter but also to prevent the occurrence of illness all together. Preventive healthcare measures for adults include vaccinations, preventive health check-ups like cholesterol, blood glucose and blood sugar levels, etc. All of these can and should be enabled by employers, not only to ensure their employees’ current health but also their future health. Companies can conduct health check-up drives or screenings at their workplace (if they are currently working out of office or in the future) or pick a wellness package that provides health check-ups at home. This way their employees do not risk venturing out amidst the pandemic but also get access to lab tests at home. It is a simple step but one that have a big impact on the health of the entire workforce.
2. The rising importance of ‘Mental Health’
For generations before us, mental health was never even discussed at home, let alone at work. Depression was not considered a cause for falling performances of employees. You could be either be ‘insane’ or a ‘sociopath’. But with greater exposure to the current generations of employees, and the never challenges experienced by them, while working from home, Mental health has finally. However, this is not a concern just for the ‘Work from Home’. Rising amount of stress, increasing number of work hours and inevitable lifestyle changes have created an unprecedented challenge that requires addressing mental health. It is also essential to understand that productivity is directly proportional to mental health. As business owners struggle to stay afloat during these challenging times, the rule book for a healthier work force will require an overhaul of existing health benefits provided to employees and focus on a key element – mental health. There are innumerable sources of stress from the fear of losing jobs, contracting the virus, inadequate access to immediate healthcare etc. To combat these new and rapidly increasing stressors, providing the right platform or support systems to take care of employee mental health is vital. This can be done by implementing policies within the company itself to provide employees an open platform and the right people to get help from.
3. Healthy families make happy employees
Even if some companies do provide basic healthcare benefits to their employees most do not extend it to family members. This often results to non-salaried members of the family (especially from MSME segments) with zero healthcare benefits. Outside the health insurance provided by companies, individual health insurance becomes extremely expensive. Giving employees the flexibility of an extended healthcare plan not only allows them to chose healthcare plans that fit their budget, but to also include their family members. Companies must look towards adopting healthcare plans that enable their employees and their family members with the necessary healthcare benefits. Employees can be rest assured their family members are taken care of and, this also helps build goodwill within the company – an essential element to building a healthier and happier work force. Some businesses have taken up the mantle of extending additional healthcare benefits to employees’ family members; According to an HBR report, 83% employees (on a global scale) have sought out healthcare options for senior family members during this pandemic. That number itself, should be enough to drive attention to this requirement.
4. End-to-end healthcare service
Healthcare does not stop with the inclusion of policies or provision of health insurance to employees. This is especially true if there is no guidance provided to fully understand and go through the often-tedious processes that accompany healthcare procedures. The digitization of healthcare has assisted in the first step towards making healthcare access easy, but the process is not complete if companies do not help their employees with end-to-end healthcare service. Over the last one year, a few healthcare and HealthTech start-ups have emerged in India that have gone beyond regular health insurance to include multiple healthcare benefits, exclusively for employees. They have also gone a step further to ensure end-to-end care enablement and delivery, especially for claims reimbursement and hospitalization processes. This helps keep employees informed, easing out the healthcare process with a support system for them to turn to in a time of need.
5. Extension of Healthcare benefits
Healthcare is no longer just limited to health insurance. It does help providing a support system in case of emergencies, but companies and employers need to understand the need of their employees. Healthcare now includes benefits like wellness, fitness, safety at work, telemedicine, doctor-on-call, online health check-ups and much more. Though a health insurance plan is a must for employees, it does not enable them to take care of their overall health. And most of these benefits are now provided in all-in-one, inexpensive healthcare plans by healthcare companies. A monthly-based subscription model is also something employers can look at for their teams. This reduces the burden of large healthcare costs at the start or end of the year and gives members the flexibility of discontinuing at their own volition.
Understanding the needs of employees is the first step towards providing them the right ways to stay healthy and safe. It is an employer/company’s responsibility to ensure their employees feel safe and have the right tools/access to healthcare as and when they need it. With the healthcare revolution in place in India, companies will find that it is not as difficult and as expensive as it for 5 years before to provide the basic healthcare benefits to employees now.