APAC firms use health program to address war for talent
81 per cent of the companies were concerned about the current and future health of their employees and employers
With more than three-quarters of employers concerned with the continuing war for talent, firms are increasingly looking to evolve a broader employee value proposition, beyond compensation to use their healthcare and choice programs to gain competitive differentiation. Employers in the emerging markets of Asia Pacific are increasingly becoming aware of the fact that health of their employees is key to their ongoing success and competitiveness and that there are huge costs associated with not having a healthy and engaged workforce. While the drivers for promoting health and wellness in their organization are productivity, performance and talent retention, at the same time employers are constrained in what they can offer employees due to rising healthcare inflation. According to Christine Owen, Mercer’s Asia Pacific Health Management Leader, Health & Benefits, “An increasing number of employers are placing greater importance on the value of an integrated health program with a prime focus on its impact on employee health, retaining key talent, containing costs and improving productivity.”
‘Asia Pacific Total Health and Choice Benefits 2011’ a survey report of almost 900 employers (of which 87 percent were MNCs) brought out by Mercer provides an insight into how employers are using health and choice to cope with this demanding landscape. The survey states that 81 percent of the companies were concerned about the current and future health of their employees and employers are spending between 6-15 percent of the payroll on the provision of health benefit package. Sectors such as financial services, hi-tech & technology and professional & other services offer choice in their benefit program. Yoke Fun Chow, Mercer’s Regional Flex Consulting Leader, Health & Benefits, says, “97% of those with an employee choice program indicate they will continue with their existing program.”
According to the survey the most popular health programs were annual employee health checkups (84%), biometric screening tests (59%) and health talks/health fairs (49%). While more than half of survey respondents are looking to increase their current health and wellness programs in the next three years, many employers are looking to share these costs with their employees. Medical and life insurance are among the most common benefits offered. Dependent benefits, lifestyle and wellness perks are also typically included within a flexible or wellness spending account in employee choice programs to address the needs of Gen Y employees who are more focused and interested in these benefits, such as gym membership, health and fitness programs, vacations and personal development.