Healthcare intermediary The Health Insurance Group is urging employers to focus on preventing illnesses from happening in the first place, rather than just concentrating on the cure.
It said providing mental health training in the workplace is vital to educate employees about what mental health is, give managers the confidence to have conversations about mental health with employees, and equip individuals with the knowledge about what support is available.
It suggested using employee assistance programmes (EAPs), which enable people to access confidential counselling and address concerns before they spiral into something more serious.
“Mental ill-health and stress are some of the main causes of long-term absence in the UK, so utilising benefits can help to prevent mental illness becoming incapacitating in the future,” the intermediary said.
The Health Insurance Group also suggested boosting employees’ physical activity levels by putting on company-organised exercise events, such as after-work yoga classes or running clubs.
“With so many jobs being sedentary nowadays, it’s important that employers aim to counteract inactivity – and related health concerns – by providing employees with the opportunity to get out and exercise,” it said.
Health apps and rewards for healthy living can be a great motivator, it added.
Healthcare screenings, meanwhile, can help to identify concerns and treat them early before they become debilitating.
For example, niggling back ache could benefit from physiotherapy provided by private medical insurance while cash plans can make bi-annual trips to the dentist more affordable.
Brett Hill (pictured), managing director of The Health Insurance Group, said that with workplace absence costing the UK economy £18bn in lost productivity each year, employers need to do everything they can to help employees stay fit and healthy.
“Moving to a ‘prevention, not cure’ model helps to reduce the likelihood of illnesses related to unhealthy lifestyles, keeping absence rates down and claims for treatment financially viable,” he stated.