The Transformation Of Employee Benefits: Are You Keeping Up?

You already know that salary is very important to your current employees, and a key drawcard in your recruitment process. But is your company keeping up with the growing prioritisation of and focus on employee benefits to support the health, wellbeing and satisfaction of your current and prospective employees? This is a very real effect of the changing dynamics of New Zealand’s current job market. Some of the employee benefits currently commonly offered across New Zealand and Australia include: 

  • Flexible working hours: employees now seek flexibility in their work schedules. Employers are responding by offering options like relaxed start and end times, compressed workweeks, and remote workdays.
  • Paid Time Off (PTO): paid time off includes vacation days, sick leave, and holidays. This employee benefit promotes work-life balance and allows employees to recharge when needed.
  • Professional development: employers are investing in their workforce’s growth by offering support for upskilling through training, courses, and conference attendance.
  • Parental support: parental benefits aim to help new parents balance their work and family responsibilities. This includes paid parental leave, childcare support, and flexible working hours.
  • Health insurance contributions: private health insurance offers employees subsidised access to private health services, increasing their accessibility and helping reduce the financial strain for immediate and specialist services.
  • Wellbeing programs: these programs focus on improving employees’ mental and physical health. Employee Assistance Programs, gym memberships, and extra paid mental health leave are popular offerings.

Why So Much Focus On Health Benefits?

Amid this array of benefits, health benefits are gaining prominence, and for good reasons. Firstly, offering financial contributions to health benefits that an employee wants or needs to access, and would pay to access anyway, helps address the rising cost of living which continues to climb and leaves many grappling with financial constraints. Plus, this allows employees to be proactive about their health, not just reactive when something goes wrong.

A healthy workforce is not just a valuable asset; it’s the cornerstone of an engaged and productive team. When employees have access to timely healthcare, as they do when offered greater health benefits, they are better equipped to address health issues effectively, leading to increased productivity and reduced distractions from untreated conditions. Proactive interventions, through regular health check-ups and wellness programs, also translate into lower absenteeism and a more reliable workforce.

Moreover, health benefits extend beyond immediate health outcomes. They improve morale, job satisfaction, and overall job security, creating a positive work environment where employees feel valued and supported. This positive culture can attract top talent, as job seekers increasingly prioritise employers who prioritise their well-being. Ultimately, while offering health benefits may involve some upfront costs, the long-term gains are substantial, with healthier, happier, and more committed employees contributing to the overall success and growth of the company.

Another reason for focusing on health benefits is the effect on mental health. Offering mental health support services, ranging from access to therapists and counselling programs to stress management resources, helps to provide employees with the necessary tools to navigate challenges like anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues effectively. Promoting mental health support is pivotal in reducing the stigma attached to these concerns in the workplace. By fostering an environment where employees feel safe seeking assistance without fear of judgment, employers empower their workforce to manage their mental health proactively. This not only enhances individual well-being but also reduces the costs associated with untreated mental health challenges, including diminished productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher turnover rates. A workforce that values and prioritises mental health fosters a more harmonious and successful work environment, yielding benefits for both employees and employers.

Why Companies Are Offering HealthNow

HealthNow is a proactive and innovative health benefit that supports a range of companies across New Zealand in caring for their team and attracting new employees. Among the many employee benefits gained from HealthNow, some include: 

  • Empowering employee health: HealthNow provides employees with annual fund contributions, allowing them to choose and use healthcare services according to their needs. This autonomy fosters a proactive approach to health, promoting overall well-being.
  • Inclusive family benefits: recognising the impact of family health on employee well-being, many employers extend HealthNow benefits to employees’ families, creating a comprehensive health support system.
  • Cost-efficiency: employers only pay for what employees use, as unused funds at the end of the year do not translate to additional costs. This ensures a cost-effective approach to employee health and well-being – and unused funds are not lost when the year rolls over, unlike other health benefits.
  • Enhanced productivity: by facilitating quicker recovery and encouraging preventive care, HealthNow can contribute to a faster return to work following illness or injury. It also helps reduce rates of presenteeism and absenteeism.

How Does HealthNow Work?

On the side of the employer, distributing funding starts with setting the monetary limit that will be available to your team annually. You also select the service sectors and merchant category codes that you approve for your employees to access – for example, selecting that your employees are able to use their funds to access physiotherapy, podiatry, optometry, audiology, and the like. Don’t worry – all vendor management is taken care of by HealthNow to reduce your administrative burden.

Once the base parameters are set, your employees have access to utilise their funds as they see fit – whether that’s receiving medical care when they’re already unwell, or proactively pursuing their journey to better health in ways that will work preventatively to foster better health before they reach “the bottom of the cliff”, where absenteeism and presenteeism start becoming prevalent in the workplace. 

As an employer, you get full insight into how your employees are using their funds, and are provided with full summaries for expense management and to demonstrate utility and efficacy to executive teams and boards. This comes as a great benefit to employers who are able to leverage this data to further support their teams in ways and on services that they can see are in demand and greatly appreciated, whether that be through wellness programs or other health initiatives. 

From an employee perspective, your team receives and can view their funds via a dedicated health wallet in the HealthNow app. They are able to use their funds to pay for health services as regular card payments via Paywave at any Eftpos terminal where Mastercard payments are accepted, receiving a dedicated HealthNow payment card to make the process easy and simple.

Employees do not need approval to utilise their funds, reducing much time, hassle and frustration with alternative options like medical claim reimbursements. Employees hold complete control over the kinds of services they’d like to access (within the approved sectors as set by the employer) and which location they’d like to attend, enabling them to start taking proactive steps towards their health and well-being, with significant positive flow-on effects into their workplace across a range of different areas including stress, burnout, absenteeism, presenteeism and more. 

You can read more about the various health and employee benefits being offered by companies across New Zealand and Australia, as well as the state of the current job market and how HealthNow can help you stand out as an employer of choice in our 2023 Employer Market Report here.

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