The Wire: Summer 2020 – How Company sponsored Protection (aka Group Risk) schemes can help support employee wellbeing during the pandemic

(Estimated read time 4 minutes)

How Company sponsored Protection (aka Group Risk) schemes can help support employee wellbeing during the pandemic

 “The pandemic is clearly having a major social and psychological impact on the whole population, increasing unemployment, separating families and various other changes in the way that we live that we know are generally major psychological risk factors for anxiety, depression and self-harm,” says Professor Ed Bullmore, head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge.

With millions of employees working from home, it’s clear that many are experiencing anxiety and worry during lockdown as they adapt to their changing circumstances. So, it’s perhaps no surprise that UK employers have increasingly focused on the wellbeing of their staff over the last two months.

A survey of 2,000 employees by online fitness coach fit4thefight in April, found that almost a quarter (24%) of employers are actively addressing employee wellbeing during the crisis, with 24% adapting their benefits to take into account the new way of working.

Additionally, over three-quarters (78%) of employers have kept staff engaged by organising weekly progress update calls, while just over one in ten (11%) have organised remote wellbeing sessions.

Where can group schemes fit in?

With  an increasing number of employers offering comprehensive  benefit packages including Group Income Protection and Critical Illness Cover, these will typically now  include valuable “Employee Assistance Programs” (EAP) and “Early Intervention Services” (EIS). These programmes are ideal for supporting the wellbeing of your staff, so it’s a great time to think about further promoting/reminding Employees & also Line Managers of these services (or indeed consider introducing such Benefits*).

What is an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is an employer-funded benefit that typically provides the following to employees:

  • Counselling
  • Practical advice and confidential information about both work and non-work-related issues
  • Medical guidance through confidential self-referral

EAP services can support your employees with day-to-day issues; some of which can be complex and debilitating, resulting in long-term sick leave, presenteeism or a safety risk. Employees can also access practical, legal or money advice and help from trusted independent experts.

An EAP can also support you by supplying anonymous management information to help you identify and tackle workplace issues.

What is an Early Intervention Service (EIS)?

Many employees already provide Group Income Protection (GIP) policies for their employees. This type of scheme ensures an employee continues to receive a regular income if they cannot work for an extended period. GIP offers a great benefit for employees and is also a great tool for you in terms of recruitment and retention.

However, many employers fail to realise that GIP policies provide far more than just a replacement salary for employees once they have been off for a specified period.

During the time between an employee going off sick and a payment starting – typically 13 or 26 weeks – insurers can offer a wide variety of “Early Intervention Services” (EIS) to employers. These services aim to work with both you and your employees to help them to return to work, where possible, as quickly as possible.

EIS Support can include:

  • Access to specialist helplines often staffed by registered nurses
  • Absence management support
  • Access to rehabilitation consultants
  • Support around a gradual and structured return to work if appropriate
  • Arranging for specific medical procedures for an employee.

Employee benefits schemes that incorporate EAP and EIS can help to support this focus on wellbeing. These offerings are designed to provide valuable protection to employees and their families at times of extreme hardship and have supported workers during this period of heightened health and financial risk.

Services such as more recent remote GP appointments, mental health support and counselling are accessible remotely through phones, smartphones, and computers. While these services offer useful additional support to workers at any time, they have taken on a new and greater importance during the current crisis given the number of employees who are now working remotely and isolated from the everyday support-structure of their co-workers and colleagues.

Have any questions regarding employee benefit schemes and how you can support your workforce? Please send us a message via the HFMC Wealth website or call us on 020 7400 4700.

*HFMC Wealth will be happy to carry out a complimentary audit of any existing Group Risk or Healthcare Benefits you provide and or obtain indicative costings for your perusal.

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