As the economy recovers, keeping your biggest asset – your workforce – healthy and happy is essential, says Kirsty Jagielko, head of marketing, Cigna UK Healthcare Benefits

health savings

Happy and healthy employees are the driving force behind every successful business.

Employees who feel that the company they work for cares for their wider health and wellbeing are more likely to be motivated, engaged and are less likely to leave. So whether you’re on a recruitment drive or looking to keep hold of your current employees, you’ll want them to know that you care about their health and happiness. Like two thirds¹ of employers, you may be looking to increase investment in health and wellbeing benefits. However, as you may have experienced, making the case for change isn’t always straightforward.


Employees today are under more stress than ever before. Since 2009, there has been a 24% increase in absence due to stress². While a fast pace work environment can be great for motivation and productivity, a sustained level of stress can lead to mental and physical health problems. For some, health challenges may include a struggle to maintain a healthy diet or exercise regime. For others, accessing care can become challenging. And, with an aging population, more of us need support living with chronic health conditions. These issues can have a significant impact on the health, well-being and development of your workforce. Not to mention the impact on absence and productivity costs.

Thankfully, there is a growing range of tools available which can help employers encourage their people to make good lifestyle choices. Health and well-being portals are a great tool for engaging employees and sharing information. Employers can share top tips for healthy living and information about how to manage living with various health conditions by providing access to websites that offer additional support. These tools can help employers that want to manage their employees’ health in a cost-efficient way.


Online tools and apps can also help to keep employees engaged with their health; and providers often have their own online solutions. Providers may be able to help support organisations with health and well-being events. Or offer financial support toward services such as on-site health checks, ergonomic assessments and fitness centre passes. And if your organisation already has a medical plan in place, they can provide insight and analysis of claims trends and industry benchmarking. This enables the development of meaningful data to support healthcare spend.

Another positive development is that the private healthcare market is innovating and uncovering workable and evidence based solutions, such as the development of care pathways. In 2014 wait times in excess of a week to see a General Practitioner (GP) increased by 50% since 2012³. Allowing employees to by-pass their GP and self-refer for treatment reduces waiting times and provides direct access to care.

Cigna recently introduced a self-referral option for customers to access OneStop breast diagnostics, providing rapid access to cancer specialists. This is the latest addition to its existing Healthy Body and Healthy Mind care pathways which allow self-referral to physiotherapy, osteopaths and chiropractors and also cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Not only is this a faster route to recovery, it promotes cost savings by reducing unnecessary consultations.


A health and well-being strategy needs to keep employees healthy and in work. And whilst many employers recognise the benefits of a healthy workforce, influencing the decision for investment in longer-term solutions can be challenging. After all, we are still in the aftermath of an economic recession. And, from November this year we saw IPT increase from 6% to 9.5%, which presents another challenge for many businesses.

Demonstrating a return on investment is vital if you’re looking for investment in health benefits or well-being initiatives. For more tips on building and presenting your case, check out our handy checklist which is designed to help you pitch to best effect. Visit

Healthier people drive a healthier business. So supporting and engaging your people with their health is essential. Focusing on health engagement will drive down medical plan usage costs and help employers to attract and retain key talent, manage absence and productivity and promote a healthy, engaged workforce.


1. “Health & Well-being at Work – The Need for Cultural

Change” (Edenred Insight, 2015)

2. “Absence management” (CIPD,2013)

3. “GP patient survey” (RCGP,2014)