Employee health and wellbeing benefits are now big business, with a plethora of services available either directly or as added-value services alongside group insurances and other benefits.
Whilst consultants can guide organisations, it is necessary for employers to be clear on the importance of personalised support.
Within any workforce, employees have a wide range of different circumstances, motivations, and lifestyles. Therefore, health and wellbeing benefits need to be flexible to meet such differing personal needs.
Health and wellbeing benefits need to be flexible to meet such differing personal needs.
Many providers offer a clear list of services available – for example, a course of counselling, physiotherapy, second medical opinion, or nutrition consultations.
Although a simple list is clear and easy to communicate, inevitably the list will not be relevant for everyone and some employees in need will be left with nothing.
The need for personalised support
When considering support, it’s important to remember that significant ill-health or life events do not exist in a vacuum. There are always many different circumstances and employees will have different responsibilities, such as families, work, finances, livelihoods, relationships, etc.
In our experience, those with a serious health diagnosis or in bereavement are often more worried about the impact on other factors than they are for themselves.
Those with a serious health diagnosis or in bereavement are often more worried about the impact on other factors than they are for themselves.
All this can all be an additional burden for the individual to cope with on top of the illness itself. Examples of the sorts of issues and burdens that individuals encounter are listed below:
- Most people try very hard to hide their feelings, worries and concerns from those close to them in an effort to protect and not to worry them.
- It is common for people to feel guilty about the impact on their family and friends. Even if the individual is not reliant on family members for their care, they often still suffer guilt about the disruption and worry they feel they are causing.
- Young and teen children often have difficulties when a parent is very unwell and this is a major worry for parents and carers.
- Significant reductions in workload may need to be made, or work may not be possible. Obviously this can have a massive impact on finances and in some cases, families can face losing their homes.
We know from our work over many years that two individuals presenting with the same sort of cancer, or having experienced a similar traumatic car crash, or loss of a close relative, could present with similar symptoms and issues, yet their lifestyles, circumstances, and responsibilities could be entirely different.
In order to provide effective support and facilitate a route to recovery/back to work, it is vital that these differences are factored into personalised support.
Consider two ladies: both with breast cancer, at the same stage, receiving the same treatment regime. One lady is the main carer for her elderly mum and is married with two young children, the other lady doesn’t have family commitments but is a physical trainer for professional athletes.
For the first lady, her concerns would likely centre around who will provide the necessary care for her mum and for her children when she is not able to, as well as how the children will cope with her losing her hair and being unwell.
Two individuals could be suffering with the exact same injury/illness, but have completely different needs.
Whereas for the second lady, her concerns are more likely to relate to maintaining her physical fitness and getting back to her job as quickly as possible – knowing that the athletes rely on her.
True personalised support addresses these different concerns along with many other factors, such as:
- The amount of information required – some people just like the essential facts, whereas others like lots of detail.
- Method and frequency of communication.
- Emotional support – some like to talk about how they are feeling, others prefer not to.
Whilst there is a wide range of health and wellbeing support services available for employers to offer their staff, very few offer truly personalised support tailored specifically to all the unique needs of each individual, which is fundamental to a sustained recovery.
Personalised support exists and it’s important that companies investigate what’s available if they want to fully support their staff.
Interested in this topic? Check out ‘How CSR and employee benefits are a match made in heaven’.