Business Protection  

Employee benefit schemes at risk post-Brexit

Employee benefit schemes at risk post-Brexit

Employee benefits programmes could be reduced as UK companies come under increasing cost pressure following the vote to leave the European Union, research has found. 

A report from Axa PPP Healthcare revealed more employers were seeking to implement better employee benefits programmes, which have more flexibility for staff.

But the research also showed 22 per cent of those surveyed were unsure whether introducing such strategies would have a positive effect on their workforce and business performance and raised concerns about budgets coming under pressure post-Brexit.

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This is largely because organisations with good healthcare and employee benefits programmes either do not communicate the benefits effectively to staff, or cannot measure the success of health and wellbeing strategies.

The 18-page study, called Realising the value of your health and wellbeing strategy, said: "This challenge could grow if budgets come under pressure as a result of the economic uncertainty following the UK's decision to leave the European Union.

"Employer spend on benefits as a whole was already squeezed before the referendum, with the number of UK employers spending more than 20 per cent of employees' salary costs on workplace benefits dropping by a third between 2014 and 2015."

The report has revealed the cost of sickness on UK firms has been rising steadily over the past few years, with more employees than ever taking leave on grounds of ill-health.

In 2013, there were 131.7m recorded days off sick; this has risen to 138.7m, Axa PPP Healthcare research has shown. As a result, 32 per cent of UK employers are concerned about their employee health and wellbeing - the third biggest concern next to organisational change and recruiting and retaining employees.

Yet the report suggested there have not been enough concerted efforts to communicate the benefits already in existence to employees, while employers remain to be convinced by their corporate advisers of the benefits to the business' bottom line.

According to the study, 61 per cent of respondents whose organisation has a health and wellbeing strategy think their employees aren’t fully aware of the healthcare services available to them.

Chris Horlick, distribution director for Axa PPP Healthcare, said: “It is disappointing that some still face significant barriers to success.

"For example, lack of buy-in and support from senior management and inertia on the part of unengaged employees – two important obstacles that health services providers can help wellbeing advocates to overcome.

"Our report will provide them with insight and advice to introduce programmes that will enable employees in their organisations to live life well.

"It’s a goal that’s well worth seeking; healthy employees are likelier to be more resilient, take less time off sick and, in turn, be better engaged and more productive than their disenfranchised counterparts.” 

In October, the Department for Work and Pensions said insurance providers must work harder to develop better and more affordable group income protection products for smaller employers.