By Philip Mullen, Managing Director, UK & Europe Integrated Health Solutions at LifeWorks
Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 has posed a wide-ranging series of challenges for insurers.
The uptake of digital technologies by businesses during the pandemic has significantly changed the way we live, work, and engage with each other. For example, the pandemic has meant that insurers’ traditional operating models have been disrupted and their customers have been forced to move onto digital channels to contact them.
In order for insurers to maintain their operations as normal, they need to prepare themselves to meet the challenges, changes and opportunities that lie ahead in the intensely digital, post-pandemic working environment.
This will entail assessing the critical flashpoints and considering what longer-term changes we may see in the future, as a result.
One of these is the acceleration of mental health and wellbeing packages. With prolonged lockdowns causing mental strain, stress and loneliness, there is a wealth of opportunities for insurers and employee benefit providers to offer mental-health packages.
So how should insurers be addressing that challenge and, importantly, what does prioritising their vulnerable customers mean for them?
Firstly, insurers need to understand employees’ changing behaviour better. As lockdown restrictions begin to ease and insurers look to return to business as usual, insurers need to understand and adapt to the ‘new normal’. Employees are anxious, some are struggling to cope with hits to their income, changes to their working routine and concern around health and the imminent fear of further lockdowns.
In fact, nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of this cohort in Britain are so stressed they feel unable to cope (Mental Health Foundation, 2018). Statistics like this show the extent to which mental health in the workplace is a highly needed aspect of employee benefits. And whilst the pandemic has made employers and employees alike more aware of the importance of wellbeing, the figures also indicate there is consumer appetite. As insurers place more emphasis on their wellbeing packages, outlining why the products are beneficial – the customer interest will only gain further momentum.
Moreover, as consumers are set to increase their digital footprint – they’re more likely to buy digital products and services. This swing will require insurers to adjust their business models and offerings, ensuring they’re aligning to post-pandemic trends and gaps in employee wellbeing.
The interest in wellbeing goes beyond just keeping the employee healthy and happy, however, as these packages will have a profound impact on businesses and their growth. The LifeWorks Mental Health Index found that 59 per cent of employees have found that the culture of their organisation supports their personal wellbeing, and this group has among the highest mental-health scores. Therefore, there is a strong link between improved mental health of employees and increased productivity.
The shift to remote working saw many employees working beyond their hours, struggling to know when to ‘switch off’. From a corporate perspective, employees who experience burnout, are less likely to perform against their targets. This is demonstrated by the figure that a staggering 85 per cent of workers claim that they became disengaged during the pandemic and mental health-related absenteeism rose by 10 per cent last year, costing UK companies £14bn.
Unless businesses provide wellbeing support to assist colleagues in dealing with these significant changes, companies are likely to face higher employee turnover, high absenteeism, and a loss in productivity.
As part of our offering at LifeWorks, we offer proactive solutions. Driven by counsellors trained in diverse areas of mental health and wellbeing, we deliver personalised resources, advisors on legal and financial issues and a digital experience capable of reaching every employee – maintaining that wellbeing is accessible for all.
By providing relevant health services and a personalised benefits plan, we boost policyholder engagement and increase brand loyalty for insurers. And most importantly, we aim to simplify the complexities in supporting wellbeing.
Now that this transition has taken place, it’s time to shift the dial on wellbeing. And for many businesses, building long-term value through people can only be achieved through a genuine commitment to employee mental health and wellbeing.
Covid-19 has been the wake-up call for insurers to diversify their offerings and update their models. And whilst keeping customers engaged and happy is important, making customers feel more in control of their choices can ultimately improve their health and wellbeing, reducing the number and severity of claims.