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Integrated health benefits workplace


GLOBALLY, employers are increasingly investing in the wellness and overall care of their employees, a trend which is gradually expanding in the local market as employers seek to attract the best possible talent available, says Professor Jacques Snyman, product development consultant at Zurreal4employers, a human capital management, employee benefits and employee wellbeing provider.

“Employers who understand that good skills are one of the scarcest resources in operating an enterprise, make substantial investments to ensure the wellness of their staff by caring for their physical, psychological and financial wellbeing,” he adds.

The cost of medical cover is directly linked to benefit utilisation by members. This is often driven by the fact that medical conditions are not identified timeously and treatment is only sought at advanced stages of disease. Generally, employees are increasingly exposed to health and group-life insurance due to the absence of wellness and wellbeing programmes in their workplace. This may lead to extensive healthcare cover utilisation, ultimately increasing health costs and driving up medical scheme premiums. However, it is not only physical wellness that enables staff to be healthier, but total wellbeing, inclusive of psychological, financial and other holistic factors.

“Catering for all aspects of wellbeing is essential to ensure happy, healthy employees. The Zurreal4employers offering is based on this model and aims to encourage the staff of participating employer groups to approach their wellbeing in a holistic manner through the Embrace Life model,” says Snyman. “Most workplace wellness programmers only scratch the surface of the employee’s total wellbeing and function independently from the benefits provided by the company’s selected medical scheme.”

The regulatory nature of medical schemes, he explains, is curative and provides very limited room for proactive health and wellness management. This can only be addressed through the proper integration of medical cover with an effective and holistic employee well being programmer that addresses inherent risk at all levels. A “component-based” or disjointed approach to employee wellness is detrimental to the well being of staff and the overall performance of an organisation. The lack of integration between the provision of health-related benefits to staff and the wellness programmed means that “at risk” employees are not channeled towards the appropriate care. In addition, no coordination exists between various service providers with regards to specific disease management programmers such as those focused on the management of HIV/AIDS. This ultimately leads to ongoing absenteeism, a loss in productivity and ultimately higher direct and indirect costs to the employer as a result of multiple touch points with the same individual.

According to Snyman, a multi-faceted, but integrated approach, such as that of the Zurreal4employers offering which includes healthcare and wellness for employees at all levels, is important when developing an employee health and well being strategy. Depending on the organisation, this may include entry-level cover which integrates with the company’s occupational health strategy, corporate wellness solutions and human capital management that is tailored to meet specific needs.

“Ensuring the overall well being of your staff on a physical, psychological and financial level ultimately leads to happier, healthier and more productive employees. In fact, South Africa’s best employers boast a 46 percent lower rate of absenteeism when compared to the average corporate, a decrease that can be directly attributed to an integrated, holistic focus on all aspects of employee well being  Directly impacting an organisation’s bottom line, investing in the overall well being of employees has become a global trend that competitive businesses, both large and small, cannot afford to ignore,” Snyman concludes.

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