Employee Healthcare and Benefits - Why is healthcare so important to a business and its employees and why do employees value this perk so highly?

Employee healthcare and benefits have become an important part of a company’s strategy when securing the best possible talent to help their business grow. But of all the benefits offered, why is healthcare so important to a business and its employees and why do employees value this perk so highly?

Typical benefits can include a whole list of services from cash plans, gym memberships, healthy eating promotions, pensions and insurance as well as health screening and promotion.  Benefits are a great thing to offer new as well as existing employees and can be part of an employer’s long-term approach to improve the productivity and engagement of their staff. Of all these benefits however, workplace health promotion and yearly health screens tend to be received by employees far better than most. 

"...Employers who implement a comprehensive set of strategies to address employee health and safety benefit by having the ability to reach most if not all employees at the work-site simultaneously…"

For employees, the maintenance of their own individual health is often seen as a difficult challenge a midst the demands of the working day, family responsibilities, and other social obligations. However, adopting healthy behavior not only reduces the risk of developing disabling or life threatening diseases with their associated costs, but improves everyday quality of life

 In a recent survey, 77% of employees responded that “health and wellness programs positively impact the culture at work. 

Participation in health promotion activities through a workplace health program allows individuals to develop knowledge, self-management and coping skills. Employees often see a comprehensive workplace health program as an investment made by their company for their own well-being and a reflection of how much the company actually does care about them and other employees…this just might impact on job satisfaction and morale.

Employers can also benefit from workplace health programs through enhanced productivity, decreased employee absenteeism, and even lower insurance and workers compensation costs. These strategies help create a culture of health and make the healthy choice the easy choice for employees. 

In addition, workplace health programs are increasingly seen as a core component of attractive employee compensation and benefits packages. This can be used as a recruitment and retention tool to attract and keep high quality employees and maintain not only morale and job satisfaction but also productivity.

  • Employees in good health are 3 times more productive than employees in poor health
  •  Healthy employees are able to concentrate more on their jobs and the make 60% fewer errors than employees in poor health
  • If an employee will exercise at least once a week, they will reduce their average number of sick days from 10 to 5
  • 87% of employees consider health and wellness benefits when choosing an employer

"…The wellness and well-being perk has become an important part of company healthcare and sickness absence strategies and recruitment…"

Acute stress, Episodic acute stress and Chronic stress and Post-traumatic Stress

Recent statistics show that 1 in 5 employees are stressed. But, what is stress? Is it just related to work and how can you cope if you’re feeling it? Everybody feels stress but very few think about what stress actually is and how it can really affect us. Stress can be a negative or positive condition that has an impact on a person's mental and physical well-being.  Stress is our body’s response to specific situations and there are many different symptoms associated with stress and stress itself can fall into four categories -

  • Acute stress

  • Episodic acute stress

  • Chronic stress

  • Posttraumatic stress (PTSD)

Acute stress

Acute stress is the more common form of stress and is associated with things to do with our everyday lives such as losing bills, rushing to meetings or making deadlines. These kinds of demands and pressures tend to be short term stress related issues that don’t have time to do any damage that long term stress could. Acute stress can actually be exciting and thrilling but too much can make you feel exhausted. Symptoms of acute stress can include emotional anguish, headaches, back pains and general muscular problems. They may also include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), dizziness, and shortness of breath and chest pains and heart palpitations which can often be triggered by adrenaline.

 Acute stress can affect anyone but it is very manageable.

Episodic Acute stress

Episodic acute stress is the stress which affects those who suffer from acute stress more frequently. People that tend suffer from this always seem to be in a rush, They take too much on and tend not to be able to organise themselves to deal with demands and pressures. Episodic Acute stress can affect interpersonal skills and can make sufferers hostile towards others causing a deterioration of relationships at home and the workplace. Its symptoms include prolonged over stimulation, persistent tension, headaches or migraines, hypertension and chest pains. Episodic acute stress can be helped with certain lifestyle changes but professional help may also be needed before any chronic problems develop.

Chronic stress

Chronic stress is the stress that can wear a sufferer down making them feel “burned-out”. Chronic stress is stress that someone can feel when they can’t see a way out of the demands and/or pressures that are making them feel depressed, miserable and disheartened on a continual basis. Factors of chronic stress can be the feeling of being trapped in an unhappy marriage or career and tends to be associated with ill health, alcohol excess, violence and can even be associated with suicide. Chronic stress can be helped with professional and medical help such as special forms of counselling and targeted behavioural therapy.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress (PTSD) is the stress associated with frightening or distressing events. These can be traumatic experiences from someone’s childhood, wars, poverty, sexual or violent abuse. Sufferers of PTSD tend to feel on edge and can relive traumatic events through nightmares and flashbacks. They struggle with concentration and have trouble sleeping. Sufferers can have strong feelings of guilt, emotional numbness, constant worry and depression. Symptoms associated with PTSD can often be very severe and have a huge negative impact on a person’s day to day life. (Through the depletion of physical and mental attrition).   Stress is not always bad nor is it the same for everyone.  There can be different symptoms for different people all of which should be addressed early on. If you’re beginning to feel stressed, it’s good to try and make adjustments to your lifestyle such as designating times to be active, becoming more social and safeguarding relaxation time. Watch out for the physical symptoms of stress such as persistent headaches, muscle tension, irritable bowel symptoms and insomnia. If these develop, speak with your GP and get advice and don’t be afraid to talk about. Further information on stress can be found on: HSE Mind NHS Mentalhealth.org