The pandemic has led to a shift in priorities where health has taken a leading role. The fear of contagion, a change in lifestyle and the psychological impact of what has happened has left an indelible footprint, increasing our concerns about staying healthy, both physically and mentally.
For those employees living abroad, who are away from friends and relatives, this challenge is becoming even greater. The lack of a support network and the fear that a time may come when they cannot provide sufficiently for the well-being of their accompanying family are added emotional burdens requiring a company response. Therefore, the first step will be understanding that looking after the overall health of your employees is now more important than ever and also means looking after their families.
In this way, offering them the services of a healthcare partner that sees the well-being of the employee and their family members as a whole will be fundamental. This is particularly true for an international SME. We must not forget that, right now, these organisations need to provide optimum care for their workforces to stay competitive in the market but in many cases they may not have the resources, know-how or advice required to achieve this.
With the support of a health insurance company like Cigna, the expatriate employees of any small or medium-sized enterprise will feel much more secure and at ease. Through its wide range of solutions, they will have access to a complete healthcare plan enabling them to look after their well-being and that of their family members and, what is most important, to access high-quality health care from any location, so satisfying one of the key criteria for their overall health: the wellness of their family.
What are the main advantages of offering a family healthcare plan to the internationally mobile employees of your international SME?
- Greater security and peace of mind. Offering employees and their family members a healthcare plan guarantees rapid, convenient, personal and effective healthcare assistance - just as they would receive in their country of origin -, a single healthcare contact, who can be called upon whenever needed, and the peace of mind of complying with the healthcare regulations in the country of assignment.In addition, some health insurance companies offer international employee assistance programmes in their packages for expat workers that include: psychological counselling, guidance on financial management, care of dependants, physical health (for example, nutrition or exercise), employment or legal matters, etc. This will lead to even more security.
- 24-hour medical care thanks to telemedicine. Many health insurance companies offer free telemedicine services such as: video visits with physicians, monitoring of chronic pathologies, health content, wellness coaching and monitoring of biomedical data. Thanks to all these innovative solutions, it is possible to lay any fears relating to access to good quality healthcare to rest. In addition it is an excellent way of monitoring health when it is not feasible to visit a physician in person.
- Wide variety of additional services and covers focused on family care. Health insurance offers a wide range of covers focused on family health care. For example: primary care, outpatient or hospital emergencies, paediatrics, maternity services, support during pregnancy, surgical procedures, single-room hospital accommodation, preventive medicine, consultations with specialists, innovative medical tests or treatment and psychological counselling, etc.
- Healthy family lifestyle. Under lockdown, many of these remote workers have led healthier lives, eating balanced diets and exercising more at home. Now is the time not to lose those habits. Thanks to the active preventive role of health service providers that are continuously distributing useful information about habits that contribute to the achievement and maintenance of good health and quality of life, this will be possible.
- Support for child wellness. One of the additional pressures that the pandemic has brought for expat employees is that of explaining an unprecedented situation to their children, making them understand why they have to wear masks or the reason that they can't leave home, travel to their country of origin, go to school or see friends. With a complete healthcare plan, it will also be possible to receive useful resources to help workers manage this situation at home.
- Greater reconciliation. Family life demands more time for health-related issues. Flexibility in terms of dates, hours and freedom to choose healthcare centres at global level provided by an international healthcare plan makes it possible to adapt to any requirement and, therefore, will help workers organise their medical appointments and those of their partner or children according to their work commitments.
For international small or medium-sized enterprises, the main advantages are:
- Boost for the SME's corporate strategy in other countries. A healthy employee is a productive employee which will translate into a huge boost for the organisation's growth projection in other markets. We must not forget that workers are the main driver of an SME in the process of international expansion. Therefore, in order that it develops its business in the most efficient and effective way possible and achieves its strategic objectives, it is necessary to contribute to the safeguarding of the well-being of its employees and their family members.
- Help in retaining and attracting talent. Access to quality health care is now a major contributing factor for expatriates when they take the step to move abroad. If workers are happy with the benefits package they receive, including health care for them and their family, this will reduce the possibility of them leaving the company and will strengthen their links with it. In addition, these types of services will also give a boost to the company's image as an employer committed to the well-being of the members of its organisation and their families. This will help attract the best talent, which is key for an SME expanding in other countries.
- Reduction of absenteeism due to illness of family members. Absences, days off, lateness or leave are just some of the consequences of an employee or one of their family members being ill. So, giving them the opportunity to access early care will help prevent and shorten the duration of different pathologies, eliminate unnecessary waiting times and, therefore, reduce the number of leave requests for these reasons and days off because of illness.
What other actions can be implemented to look after the family health of the employees of your international SME?
When we talk about family health or well-being, the limits go well beyond the individual physical and mental health of the family members: in order to achieve this state of full satisfaction, it is also necessary to obtain optimum conditions in other areas, such as the emotional bond between family members, state of household finances or time spent as a family. Bearing in mind the current situation, support from the company in these three basic areas is fundamental, irrespective of where the employees are located. Therefore, along with health insurance, it is appropriate to provide many other benefits. These include:
- Flexible working policies. Some of these are: a reduction in daily working hours for personal reasons, freedom to choose working hours, condensed working day, condensed or compressed working week (accumulating working hours and receiving a free day or free afternoons in return), leave of absence to care for dependants, increase in maternity/paternity leave or breastfeeding time, flexibility in taking holiday and day off on birthday, etc.
- Employee support services. A number of benefits exist focused on looking after staff family well-being: subsidised services, special discounts or cheques for childcare, transport or purchases, restaurant vouchers, services for the care of dependants (also subsidised services or providing support with reservations in centres), providing information on the availability of all these services close to the company, professional advice or support with legal, financial or medical issues, life and accident insurance, pension schemes and training at special prices, etc.
- Special activities for employees’ families. Cultural, sports and leisure events and get-togethers began to mushroom years ago as an excellent strategy for cementing ties between family members, workers and company. Bearing in mind that each employee is in one part of the world, there are many opportunities to organise a virtual Family Day. For example: creating an ad hoc webcast that includes a remote magic show, digital yoga sessions or online craft classes with children.
- Resources for managing work time effectively and switching off. The problem of switching off has been one of the main consequences of remote working. This fact impacts directly on the family health of the workforce if employees are unable to dedicate as much time as they would like to relatives or by increasing stress levels. Therefore, organisations must offer the necessary tools so that employees organise their working hours appropriately, take proper breaks, do not suffer from overwork and can focus sufficiently when they are working.
- Continuous contact with employees to find out how they are and what they need. It is important to ask them regularly how they are, to be interested in their family life and to encourage them to spend time with their loved ones or contact them, even virtually. This will help you determine what they need and offer them the facilities they lack according to their particular situation. An action as simple as this will show them that the company places considerable importance on their personal life and considers it a space that needs to be respected.
The aim of implementing all these actions is to integrate family values within the corporate culture, treating internationally mobile employees as persons who not only perform the role of worker but also that of husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister.
Companies such as Cigna provide you with the opportunity to become an organisation that is concerned for the overall wellness of your employees. Its experience in the corporate world as the health partner of large corporations and SMEs with expat workers allows it to offer flexible, tailored solutions adapted to the particular challenges of each organisation. As well as offering remote employees and their families a wide range of health covers and services and access to a prestigious global healthcare network, it also gives advice on all entry formalities and all compliance policies for each destination, provides a multilingual customer care service in all time zones with Cigna staff and offers support at all stages of assignment (before, at the start, during and after).
In addition, it provides assistance, support and monitoring for the establishment of wellness programmes in small and medium-sized enterprises, focused, in this case, on the family health of the workforce residing in other countries.
Click this link to request a quote and find out everything that Cigna can do for you and for the success of your SME.