2020 has been a relevant year for businesses, showing that now it is more important than ever to look after your employees by setting up well-structured and well-implemented health & well-being plans. While prevention already plays an important role in all entities, the health situation that we have experienced in recent months has meant a real qualitative and quantitative leap forward, placing the concept of looking after the health & well-being of the team at the very centre of the people management strategy, and making it the corporate distinguishing feature of any organisation, regardless of its size or where its employees are located.
Against this backdrop of uncertainty and a rise in hybrid workplace environments, preventing employees from feeling left out, losing contact with their team, and, most importantly, experiencing mental and physical health problems, is key. These issues are particularly detrimental to companies with expatriate workers, as they play a key role in the internationalisation and success of the company. To counteract the impact of this, implementing well-structured health programmes, based on the specific needs of the workforce, is crucial. To do so, it is very important to carry out an in-depth analysis of the situation in each place where the company is located, define a clear strategy and develop it in a structured way using attractive initiatives that capture the attention of all national and expatriate employees.
The health crisis has been a turning point in this respect. There are thousands of ideas, opportunities and approaches to explore. That is why keeping abreast of the latest developments in this area can make a huge difference when it comes to increasing the effectiveness of action taken, as this will increase employee motivation. At Cigna, we examined the main trends that will mark health & well-being plans for international SMEs in 2021:
- Greater specificity. The initial investment is perhaps one of the biggest problems SMEs face when implementing these programmes. That is why, in such cases, they should start by opting for more specific plans, focused on a specific objective identified in the initial analysis of the needs of the workforce. For example, if the teams are experiencing very high levels of stress, or if the vast majority of them do not live an active lifestyle, it is a good idea to start by developing a specific strategy to resolve this. Various studies suggest that plans aimed at resolving or supporting a specific issue have a greater impact.
- Mental health – the main focus during the pandemic. In the context in which we live, where many say the decline in the mental health of the population is one of the long-term effects of the health crisis, opting for initiatives focused on this area is a great idea, particularly in the case of employees who are also far away from their home country and family. This means that looking after their emotional wellness is one of the main areas of intervention, in which preventing and managing specific problems, such as stress or anxiety, play a key role.
- Global health. A comprehensive approach to well-being is necessary to consolidate health plans in small and medium-sized enterprises. This means that, in addition to promoting actions related to medical health itself, social, family, financial and, of course, occupational well-being actions are also incorporated. So, in addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle, other benefits relating to work-life balance, flexibility and promoting diversity will become more widespread.
- Work-life balance and flexibility, the new stars of well-being plans. Teleworking has resulted in many workers having to live their personal and work lives in the same space. This has inevitably made it harder for them to disconnect or even inadvertently made their working day longer. These factors represent an additional emotional burden which they are not used to, and make well-planned and structured ad-hoc work-life balance programmes much more important, as well as other initiatives focused on training employees in managing work tasks from home.
- Communication is more important than ever. Direct and two-way communication is key, and even more so in the context of teleworking, and particularly when it comes to including expatriate employees in health plans promoted by the company. Some ways of doings so, and which will play a leading role in communication from now on, include creating a weekly newsletter, setting up a schedule for group and individual meetings, ensuring the Intranet is updated with relevant information, organising team sessions, setting up a channel for questions online or making a suggestion box available to the workforce. This may even help posted workers to have an even closer link than before with the rest of the members of the company.
- Telemedicine for employees. Offering employees a telemedicine service so that they can take care of their health, wherever they are, is becoming a real added value, particularly in a context like the present. This means the organisation taking on an active role by facilitating access to healthcare at any time, and, in the case of posted workers, in their native language, and by providing the workforce with different tools so that they can monitor their health and access different resources to embark on a healthy life.
- The key role of senior and middle management. According to a study1 by Cigna, a factor which plays a very important role in influencing employee participation in health plans is senior management’s commitment. Furthermore, it was found that programmes with middle management support yielded a return on investment averaging 10 times the initial investment. And this assuming that the training and education of managers in this respect is now a key component.
- Health insurance. Although there are many new ways of supporting the workforce and contributing to the improvement of their health, providing health insurance continues to be, owing to its comprehensive focus, one of the company benefits most valued and requested by employees, particularly expatriate workers. Against the current backdrop, offering them the security of being able to access quality healthcare whenever they need it is more important than ever. And in the case of posted employees, having a single healthcare contact to go to whenever necessary, or additional services, such as employee assistance programmes, will bring greater peace of mind.
When setting up and implementing health & well-being plans, having a specialised partner is essential. This prerequisite is particularly important now when it is necessary to maximise care for employees, wherever they are, and requires resources, know-how and advice to achieve this.
That’s why, in addition to offering entities of all sizes, with national and international presence, a wide range of cover and health solutions, insurers like Cigna are also providing guidance and advice services to companies on implementing health & well-being plans, offering them full assistance and guaranteeing them continuous support and monitoring, and helping them to look after the health & well-being of their employees in a holistic manner, regardless of the country where they are located. If you would like to know what Cigna can offer you, this link will give you all the information you need on the different solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises. To get a quote, please click here.
1 Cigna. Health and Wellness in Workplaces: What Works? ROI Analysis of Health & Wellness InterventionsLink.