Business owner? Why adding better protection perks for staff could help you cut workplace absence

Someone holding another’s hand in a gesture of support

If you’re a business owner or manager, keeping your team happy, healthy, and motivated can sometimes be a challenge.

Indeed, Sky News recently reported that workplace absences in the UK have reached a 10-year high, with the average worker absent for 7.8 days a year – up a whole two days from before the pandemic.

In addition, Sky reported that long-term sickness is running at a record rate, as more than 2.6 million people do not have jobs due to their health.

Absenteeism can create logistical issues, reduce output, and hit the profitability of your business. Luckily, there are ways you can support your team and help them back to work quicker – and they could also help you to recruit and retain good staff.

Read on to find out more.

Stress and mental health issues are two causes of long-term workplace absence

The latest figures from the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) show that, while minor illnesses such as Covid-19 were the main factor behind short-term absences, 76% of absentees said stress had kept them off work in the last year. Mental health accounted for 63% of long-term absences.

While strong HR policies can help support workers through absences, the CIPD says that businesses can do more to look after staff and help them back to work.

Rachel Suff, senior employee wellbeing adviser at the CIPD, said: “External factors like the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have had profound impacts on many people’s wellbeing.

“It’s good to see that slightly more organisations are approaching health and wellbeing through a stand-alone strategy. This means managing the main risks to people’s health from work to prevent stress as well as early intervention to prevent health issues from escalating where possible.”

One of the ways you can support your team is to consider putting a formal employee benefits package in place.

For example, group income protection provides a valuable financial safety net in the form of an income to an employee who is unable to work due to long-term illness or injury. It will usually also pay your employer National Insurance contributions for that employee while they are absent.

Moreover, it has wider health and wellbeing benefits and can become an important workplace tool. In addition to providing a proportion of an employee’s monthly salary, it can:

  • Support the individual by providing rehabilitation services, such as counselling, physiotherapy, or other treatment, to help them recuperate and return to work sooner.
  • Intervene early to provide appropriate support to avoid a health concern becoming a long-term issue.
  • Provide employees with tools and advice that encourage them to adopt healthier lifestyles.
  • Work with an individual to determine a timetable for returning – perhaps initially through phased or reduced hours.

Your business will pay the premiums, and there is no “benefit in kind” charge to the employee. Most schemes will also guarantee cover for employees with no medical underwriting up to a specified limit.

Employees increasingly looking for wellbeing perks

If you’re seeking to attract and retain the best staff in 2023, employee perks are increasingly important to individuals when choosing a job. So, offering health and income protection could be a useful weapon in your HR armoury.

Indeed, research reported by the Actuarial Post suggests that health insurance and income protection are key drivers for over half (57%) of people when choosing a job.

The research also found two-thirds of people (65%) who accessed vocational rehabilitation services through their insurer didn’t need to take sick leave.

Adding additional benefits such as flexible working, and health and wellbeing services, can give your business a real advantage when it comes to hiring and retaining good people.

Pensions could also be an attractive workplace perk

While it can’t improve attendance in your business, enhanced pension contributions could be another financial perk that could help you attract and retain great talent.

According to HR magazine, 90% of UK workers say pension is the most important benefit their employer can offer.

Kate Smith, head of pensions at insurance company Aegon, said pensions have been on more employees’ minds since the introduction of auto-enrolment in 2012 adding: “However, going above the regulatory auto-enrolment minimum can help employers differentiate themselves and attract and retain staff, but also help them retire.”

There are several ways you could enhance your pension benefits:

  • Pay more than the statutory minimum of 3%
  • Match employee contributions – perhaps up to a specified limit
  • Offer pension advice to employees through a partnership with a financial planner.

Remember that pension contributions are usually considered a deductible expense, so can reduce your Corporation Tax bill.

Get in touch

Putting employee benefits in place, such as a generous pension scheme or health and income protection, can boost attendance and help you to attract and retain talent.

To find out more, please get in touch. Email or call us on 01454 416653.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

Note that life insurance plans typically have no cash in value at any time and cover will cease at the end of the term. If premiums stop, then cover will lapse.

A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until 55 (57 from April 2028). The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances. Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts.

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