According to Mark Welsh, Head of Employee Benefits Underwriting, Norway, “The complete benefits package has become ever more important over the past decade, and this includes access to quality healthcare services. In fact, it is not uncommon for job interviews to include some time spent on which health service providers are offered by the recruiting company.”
Alongside health benefits, people are looking for roles that offer more than just a paycheck. As noted in a recent Gallup report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, millennials are “the least engaged generation in the workplace” and most likely to switch jobs, noting, “six in 10 millennials are open to new job opportunities.”
“Millennials and younger generations are not solely driven by money,” Sofi Alverstrand, Head of Employee Benefits Underwriting, Sweden, explains. “The trend for many years has been that younger employees prefer to ’hop’ into new roles elsewhere, they actively look for new challenges, and are driven by the need to gain experience in different roles and across different industries.”
In addition to the above, many employers are actively looking to promote and maintain the wellbeing of their employees. The aging workforce means that these efforts will continue well into the future, from on-premises gym facilities and healthy lunch campaigns to sports day events, with the aim of raising awareness of health-related issues, from nutrition to physical fitness and more.
Physical wellbeing makes a difference
Looking at some fundamental concerns that employers face, at If Insurance we see two key challenges. One issue is the amount of exercise that employees are getting, and the other relates to the impact of ergonomics.
Markus Munter, Head of Employee Benefits Underwriting, Finland, states that, “General fitness and wellbeing are important for an employees’ effectiveness at work. This also has a positive impact, for example, by decreasing the number of sick days.“
A third key component concerns work-life balance. According to Eurostat, one of the biggest factors disrupting the Nordic workplace is time pressure. How can employees find the extra time to work out? And in this respect, where, when and how will employees manage to keep active? Finding time for regular exercise can be a challenge, as people are increasingly short on free time. Some companies offer discounts to gyms or install gym equipment in the office to help with this issue.
As Salla Lind-Kohvakka, Nordic Digital Employee Benefits Development Manager, notes, “Add to this the fact that in general the workforce is aging, and therefore the focus on general physical health will only continue. Stress, burnout and anxiety are on the rise around the world and the coronavirus pandemic has not helped this situation. For many of us, sometimes what we need is rest, instead of an active workout. Therefore, a little bit of free time is easily filled with a quick nap, or just relaxing and enjoying a moment of silence.”
COVID-19 and the workplace
While the negative impacts of long COVID, including muscular and skeletal disorders, are still being being researched, more common issues have emerged during the pandemic, including decreased physical exercise and increased cases relating to depression. Furthermore, the global coronavirus pandemic has clearly raised concerns among existing and potential employees about the medical benefits and healthcare services they have access to.
“In the United Kingdom, there are some two million people suffering from the impact of ‘long COVID’ which includes muscular and skeletal issues that have arisen following coronavirus infections,” Mark Welsh, explains. “Similarly, chiropractors and physiotherapists are increasingly in demand to help people recover from the virus.”
With new COVID-19 variants emerging (not least the Delta variant) and many nations now experiencing a third or fourth wave of infections, many employers are facing a rise in corona-related cases in their workforce.
From physical health concerns, extending to mental health issues, the ongoing pandemic has had, and continues to have, an impact on employee health. This has led to not only a decline in individual performances but has negatively impacted company productivity overall as a result.
According to Mark Welsh, “What we are seeing is that a greater emphasis on mental health cover is steadily growing. People are different and while some have managed well through lockdowns and possible periods of quarantine, others have truly struggled with the changes that have come with the pandemic.”