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Gearing up to combat the working-age health crisis

Engagement | Benefits | Wellness | Resource

Posted on: Friday May 03, 2024

by Sarah Lardner, Director of Business Innovation

A recent BBC article entitled Why are we so ill? The working age health crisis, warns about the number of people being driven out of jobs because of ill health and refers to ‘one-fifth’ of the UK’s working age population living with a 'work-limiting condition'. This is a growing and serious issue that companies need to address to better understand and manage.  

We’ve outlined the main issues and offer some potential solutions for discussion.   

Long-term issues affecting an army of workers 

The Health Foundation / ONS claims that a 1/5 of working people aged 16 to 64 are having their ability to work affected by health issues - a problem that has become so bad that it’s “threatening the economic potential of the country”. Access to health care has been made more difficult by the long-term impacts of the financial crisis and subsequently the pandemic. In many cases, this has led to people putting off contacting a doctor or facing significant delay. 

Personal Group advice:  

PMI and Online GPs - Providing benefits like Private Medical Insurance can give workers quicker access to care, while Online GPs make it easier for workers to get a diagnosis, prescription or advice without needing to take time off, or even leave their place of work. 

Look out for your carers - This older age group is also more likely to be affected by caring responsibilities, either for parents or other family members. Like early parenting, this brings added pressure that can lead to hopelessness and isolation. By using tech, we can build virtual social communities of like-minded people facing and sharing similar challenges.  

Signpost your EAP - Companies can make available a whole range of resources within their Employee Assistant Programmes such as access to experienced counselling,  videos and how-to guides as well as tools for self-help such as mindfulness or meditation apps (see Transform below). 

  1. The burden of living with pain 

What about the effects of living with chronic pain that’s persistent or recurrent for longer than three months? In an ageing population with a growing proportion of the workforce in its 50s or 60s, this problem is facing many companies. 

PG advice: 

Online GPs – many people are putting off going to the doctor simply because they cannot make the time in their week or afford to take it off. By giving people access to a doctor online - through a phone call, chatbot or a call-back function - companies can help workers tackle the root causes of their pain, and manage it through treatment or advice around lifestyle.  

Transform - Our tool Transform is a total wellbeing solution. Delivered within the Hapi App, Transform offers hundreds of workout classes, mental health support, healthy recipes, tools for a better night’s sleep and stress management techniques. 

Personal Group Insurance – Our broad range of insurances provide direct support and peace of mind for workers needing hospital treatment, recovery following hospitalisation or day surgery or life cover - It’s a valuable safety net that comes at no cost to you the employer.   

  1. A generational shift in Mental Health issues 

A report published by the Resolution Foundation in February found that one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds are reporting symptoms of mental illness - a complete reversal of the situation 20 years ago when this age group was the least likely to suffer from mental illness. The Mental Health Foundation cites issues such as social media, bullying, job insecurity and the wider impacts of Brexit and the pandemic as reasons. 

PG advice: 

Culture of openness – We need to create environments where our younger people are comfortable sharing their stress with peers and managers. Each layer of a multi-generational workforce should be able to assist in different ways, either by applying life lessons around finances or through direct empathy and shared experiences. A company cannot force people to share how they feel, but it can enable channels of communication and make it more likely. 

Think Digital first – By streamlining pay, reward and benefits in one digital destination like the HAPI app, companies can provide their workers with all the help, support and connectivity they need, in one place.   

  1. Social deprivation and disease 

According to the BBC article, nearly two-thirds of UK adults are overweight or obese, a significant contributor to the rise of type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes is twice as common in poorer areas and is seen as a key contributor to workplace absenteeism.  

PG advice:   

Benefits and discounts – By activating all the benefits within the HAPI app companies can provide workers with direct financial aid through discount vouchers for groceries, high street brands and everyday shopping, helping to make their money go further. 

Health and Lifestyle – Companies can support their workers to make healthier lifestyle choices by offering incentives like cycling to work, or by communicating about healthy options for eating and cooking – all possible and streamlined through HAPI.  

Financial support - By signposting to the support and protection services within an EAP, companies can also make it easier for workers to gain financial help and advice, including debt management and budgeting tools.  

To speak with someone at PG about Transform, HAPI or insurance products, or for help reviewing your benefits offering and defining a new strategy through our reward consultancy, Innecto, please Get in touch here.  


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