Health On Demand Becomes a HR Priority

Photo credit: iStockphoto/ipopba

Health attitudes are changing. Spurred by COVID-19, disappearing pension benefits and longer working lives, employees are asking for a rethinking on health benefits.

The inaugural ‘Health on Demand’ survey, which studied 16,000-plus workers and 1300 employers in 13 markets around the world, notes that more than half of employers acknowledge this demand. 

Figures show that 68% of employers plan to invest more in digital health solutions over the next five years. This report suggests that this is a sign that employers already believe digital health solutions can be a cost-effective means of helping their people get healthier—and a way to satisfy their desire for more convenient and affordable healthcare. 

The survey, conducted by Mercer Marsh Benefits, Mercer and Oliver Wyman, found that while specific attitudes differ, 64% are excited by digital health innovation. Many workers (63%) also say they would have more confidence in a new solution if it were offered by their employer.

“The findings from the ‘Health on Demand’ survey confirm our belief that employers looking to build a workplace culture of well-being and to improve talent retention should consider digital health investments,” says Hervé Balzano, Mercer Marsh Benefits International Leader and Mercer President, Health. “Otherwise they risk being left behind in today’s competitive global labor markets.”

Growth market employees are more open to new digital health solutions than their mature market counterparts.  

This disparity, the report argues, may reflect generational influence. A higher percentage the workers in growth markets are Millennials and Gen Z (54%) compared to the workers in mature markets (43%), and younger people are early adopters of technology. In addition, 54% of workers in growth markets say they would be more likely to stay at their job if their employer provided digital health tools, compared to 27% in mature markets.

“More workers in growth markets are ready for digital health now,” says Balzano. “But the survey found that workers across all markets are open to solutions that make healthcare more convenient and affordable. Employers have an opportunity to embrace positive disruption by providing and promoting solutions that help improve access to quality care.”

The solution that the most workers want around the world is an app that “helps find the right doctor or medical care when and where needed.” When diving deep into the country figures, the most popular solution in the U.K. was wearable technology that can self-manage chronic conditions. In China, where 76% of workers say they are responsible for the healthcare of a family member (compared to an average of 53% across all 13 countries), “companion robots that help elderly relatives stay healthy at home” was popular. 

The survey also highlights the gap between employers and employees in how they are addressing employee well-being. It shows that 71% of employers believe that their organization cares about their workers’ well-being. However, just 50% of worksers said the same when asked the same question. 

Survey results suggest a way to help close this perception gap. The wider the range of health and well-being resources an employer offers—from insurance coverages to subsidized nutrition or exercise programs—the more likely workers are to feel supported and energized, and the less likely they are to leave their employer. Of the workers who are offered 10 or more such benefits, 75% believe their employers care about them, compared to just 43% of those offered five or fewer.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/ipopba