How can an employer help to protect its employees’ health?

There are benefits employers can offer to help protect employee heath and at the same time help to ease the pressure on the health service.

In October 2022 there were more than 7 million people waiting for NHS treatment, according to figures from the British Medical Association (source:  BMA analysis of NHS England Consultant led referral to treatment waiting times statistics)

In addition, patients are waiting longer for emergency care, with a total of over 2.17 million A&E attendances in November and similar in October 2022 according to the NHS England A&E Attendances and Emergency Admissions statistics. As a result, some of those affected by the delays are seeking alternatives.

What can employers do to reduce the impact of NHS delays?

A recent Office for National Statistics report indicates that one in eight adults in the UK has paid for private medical care in the last year due to delays that have left 70% of those on waiting lists for at least six months and 18% waiting for a year or more.

Not all businesses can afford to offer private medical insurance as an employee benefit, so what else can employers do to help reduce the impact of NHS delays on their employees and ultimately their business?

With the cost-of-living crisis showing no signs of easing, it is an ideal time for employers to focus on an inclusive prevention strategy rather than a cure strategy that gives everyone access to programmes such as health screening at an affordable cost.

Employer action can make a difference

The Department of Health and Social Care released a paper in November 2018 called Prevention is better than cure.

Its findings concluded that early and proactive action by employers can help to retain and re-integrate employees who are struggling with their health or who are off work due to sickness.  That flexible adjustments to the workplace including working hours or the job itself can help an employee to thrive in their role and that the workplace is a great setting for reaching employees with messages encouraging and promoting healthy lifestyles. A healthy workforce can be a more productive one.

Protecting your employees’ health is good for business – and potentially for the NHS

A comprehensive health and wellbeing programme says a lot about how seriously an employer takes its employees’ wellbeing.

Meeting employees’ healthcare needs can boost employee retention rates and improve productivity and sets an employer apart from its rivals.

Catching health issues earlier can potentially lessen the severity of a diagnosis which can hopefully help to reduce the suffering caused to the employee and the amount of time they are off work.

How could you protect your employees’ health?

Promote a healthy work-life balance

CIPD advice is for all employees to “be encouraged to have a good self-care routine including a healthy approach to diet, relaxation and sleep”.

Demonstrating that workers should only work the hours they are contracted to do so (most of the time at least) and offering flexible hours are two ways that an employer can do this.

Motivate your employees to make healthy choices

An employer’s wellbeing strategy could include discounted fitness gadgets and wearable devices that can help achieve this.

Review your benefits scheme

focus on areas where the NHS delays are the longest, such as diagnostic tests, screening and mental health support.  

An example would be when it comes to mental health.  An employer can offer specialist services such as counselling for those going through difficult periods, as well as access to apps that support positive behaviours such as mindfulness.

Tailor communications to employees

By filtering out irrelevant content and delivering messages in a way that will resonate with employees that they are designed to help.  This can have a real impact on your employees’ health and wellbeing.

What are the benefits of an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

An EAP is a cost-effective way to add value to businesses including mental health support to employees and their immediate family.  It is a vital employee benefit that can help employees to make it through challenging times.  Whether it’s personal or professional challenges, an EAP can provide a safe space for an employee to discuss any issues they may have.

The following is a list of potential services provided within an EAP:

  • 24/7, confidential helpline
  • A specified number of sessions of structured counselling
  • 24/7 crisis assistance & manager support
  • In-house legal & financial information
  • Access to a wellbeing app

An EAP helpline is usually available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and has staff who are available to support employees with:

  • Mental health, Anxiety, Depression
  • Physical health
  • Self-identity
  • Addiction
  • Grief
  • Debt & finances
  • Discrimination
  • Relationships

How can MWM Employee Benefits help?

MWM specialises in providing advice to employers on a range of group products to enhance their employee benefit packages.  We have a wealth of experience in assisting businesses of all sizes.

As each business is unique, so are the programmes we put in place.  We are able to review existing arrangements, if you have any, and ensure that they remain appropriate.  We can discuss with you what you would like to do for your employees in the future and put together a recommendation tailored to your requirements.

If you would like to hear more about how we can add value for you and your employees, contact a member of our Employee Benefits team who will be happy to show you how we can help. 

Jackie Witcher

Head of Employee Benefits Services


The information provided is for general information only and is not intended to address the particular requirements of an individual or business.  It does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by MWM Employee Benefits or Menzies Wealth Management Ltd and should not be relied upon by individuals in either making or refraining from making any financial decisions. Where necessary, you should seek appropriate professional advice before acting on any of the information provided.

MWM Employee Benefits is an authorised representative of Menzies Wealth Management who is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 486548).

Menzies Wealth Management Limited is registered in England and Wales under number 06597008. Our registered office is at 1st Floor, Midas House, Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 6LQ. 

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