• published on 1/18/2019
  • 15min

Why you should invest in your employees' health in Hong Kong

Higher staff productivity and engagement, improved employee retention and a better company image… Discover why offering comprehensive health & wellbeing benefits to your employees is the smartest business decision you can make.

Why you should invest in your employees' health in Hong Kong

How can I invest in my employees’ health?

Comprehensive group health insurance

For many companies in Hong Kong, the easiest way to invest in their employees’ health is to provide them with a health insurance scheme that will cover their medical expenses.

In Hong Kong, employers are not required to insure their staff and some choose not to. However, over the past few years, offering health insurance as part of an employee benefits package has become an easy way to attract and retain talented employees. Some companies even go further by offering to cover their employees’ family members, which creates a deeper attachment to the company. The job market being highly competitive in Hong Kong, comprehensive health packages can represent a huge difference for candidates applying to a similar company or a similar position.

A large number of companies choose to offer local health insurance plans to their employees; however, local plans are often insufficient to cover the cost of treatment in private facilities. They have lower reimbursement levels, more sub-limits (such as on surgeon's or anaesthetist's fees) and will usually not cover you outside of Hong Kong. Therefore, covering your employees under an international group health insurance plan with more comprehensive benefits represents a significant added-value in terms of employee benefits. Your employees will have the peace of mind of knowing that any unexpected medical expenses will be covered, whether they are in Hong Kong or abroad.

In addition, by offering healthcare cover to your employees, they are more likely to go to the doctor if they are not feeling well. As private healthcare in Hong Kong is some of the most expensive in the world and public healthcare often involves long waiting periods, employees without coverage are more likely to wait longer before seeing a medical practitioner. This also means that they remain unwell longer, which impacts their presence in the office and/or their productivity. And if they are suffering from a serious condition without being able to afford adequate treatment, their state of health might degrade over time and their condition turn into a serious disease. Being able to see the doctor regularly means fewer sick days and more productive employees in the long run!

Healthcare management

Healthcare management is slightly different from health insurance, but no less important. Instead of covering your employees’ medical expenses, healthcare management focuses on preventive care to limit the risk of developing illnesses or diseases. To reduce the risks of your employees getting sick or injured, the first step is to offer them regular and comprehensive health checkups. These series of tests can detect potentially serious health problems early and treat them while they are easy to cure. They also contribute to improve the overall health of your employees. The World Health Organisation has identified several high risks factors to health, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or poor diet[1], which employees can be given the opportunity to address with regular health checkups.

In addition to checkups, offering your employees the possibility to receive vaccinations at their workplace or through a designated medical facility is a simple but significant way to reduce absences and productivity losses associated with common illnesses. The influenza vaccine is the most popular one in Hong Kong, especially during the fall and winter months. However, if your employees travel for business on a regular basis, don’t forget to check if they are up-to-date with the recommended vaccinations in their countries of destination.

Last but not least, Hong Kong is well-known for its long working hours and high pressure on employees. Sadly, this frenetic working culture has a huge impact on its workers’ mental health. A study conducted by the Hong Kong government found that 32% of working people were classed as having unsatisfactory mental health[2]. To address this issue, we would recommend taking measures to raise awareness about mental illnesses within your company and offer support to the employees who might need it. A few years ago, the Harvard Medical School conducted a study on 16 companies where they identified and offered treatment to the employees suffering from mental health issues. Researchers found that workers reported their moods significantly improved as well as their productivity, equaling about 2.6 hours of extra work per week worth about $1,800 per year (based on average wages) [3]. While the investment in mental health prevention and treatment remains quite low, results can have a huge impact on your employees’ wellbeing and consequently on their job performance.

Additional wellness benefits

To supplement their health insurance cover, some companies also offer additional wellness benefits to their employees. These programmes focus on encouraging employees to adopt a healthier lifestyle all-year-long and improve their overall health and wellbeing not only during office hours but also outside of work. Implementing these kinds of wellness benefits often have a strong impact on employees’ morale and motivation. If you are considering offering new benefits to your employees, here are a few cost-effective and easy to implement ideas to start with:

Additional wellness benefits
  • Offer discounted gym memberships: start by negotiating discounted rates with fitness studios close to your workplace to make it easy to access for your employees or focus on larger brands which own several studios across Hong Kong.

  • Organize corporate sport classes with your team: whether it is a yoga class, a muay thai lesson or a hike to the Peak, group classes and activities will encourage your employees to exercise more and as an additional bonus, they are great to build team spirit.

  • Encourage your employees to stop smoking: between smoking breaks, increased stress and related health issues, smoking employees are costing your business more than you imagine. Today, an increasing number of companies offer smoking cessation programmes and accompany their employees through the process of quitting.

  • Organize nutrition classes: many people in Hong Kong find it hard to maintain a balanced diet, so guide your employees toward a healthier lifestyle with nutrition classes or seminars.

  • Organize workshops to help your employees improve their posture at work: did you know that back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work [4]? Time to educate your staff on how to adopt a healthier posture at their desk!

As every company is different, don’t forget to adapt your wellness benefits to the needs and expectations of your staff. Encouraging your employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle will contribute to build a strong, health-conscious culture within the company, which will be highly beneficial to both your employees and your company.

What are the benefits of a healthier workforce?

Increased productivity

To begin with, even if your company counts key talents, it’s a fact: employees who are not healthy are less productive. Whether they are sick, injured or even overstressed, they will struggle to focus on their tasks and deliver quality work. This productivity loss can be hard to notice or quantify, but it can have a strong impact on the amount and on the quality of work they deliver, and therefore on your revenues.

By making access to healthcare easier with a comprehensive group health insurance plan, you will help them remain in good health (both physically and mentally) and therefore maintain a stable productivity level within you company.

More employee engagement

According to a survey conducted by Gallup in 155 countries, 85% of employees worldwide are unhappy or do not feel engaged with their work - representing almost $7 trillion in lost productivity every year! Hong Kong’s numbers aren’t even double-digits, with only 5% of its workforce feeling engaged at work. This single figure speaks for itself and points to an issue that employers cannot ignore [5].

More employee engagement

Along with competitive salaries, career opportunities or company culture, empowering your employees through health-related efforts is a solution that cannot be ignored when it comes to increasing your employees’ satisfaction and engagement. In addition to having a healthy workforce, implementing solutions to engage your employees is vital for all organizations to retain talented staff members and optimize their productivity.

Less sick leave and germs being transmitted around the office

Employees who fail to receive medical advice or who don’t have access to quality healthcare tend to be sick more often and are more likely to develop mental health issues. This often results in a higher rate of sick leave within the company. People being off sick has a significant impact in the office, causing drops in service levels where a team member is missing and others have to pick up the slack, or in the case of small companies or key members of staff it means necessary tasks simply cannot be done.

On the other hand, presenteeism also has a negative impact on companies, where instead of resting at home because they are ill, employees come in to the office as usual. As a result, they are not performing to their best ability, resulting in the quality of their work suffering while increasing the risk of mistakes. This issue can be costly and deeply impacts the company in terms of work quality. Even more worrying: by staying in the office, they increase the risk of passing their illness to their coworkers, meaning more employees off sick and a poorer overall quality of work.

Less stress

Less stress

Offering a position with comprehensive health benefits means that your employees can relax and focus on their job without worrying about getting sick or having any major treatment that could have a serious impact on their finances or even leave them bankrupt. Once again, happier and more secure workers are more productive. According to a research conducted by the University of Warwick, happy employees perform their jobs 12% better, while stressed, unhappy workers perform 10% worse [6].

Today, it is estimated that over 60% of people working in Hong Kong feel highly stressed because of their job [7], so employee happiness and morale is an issue that employers can’t ignore. Long working hours and high pressure to get results have a significant impact on your employees’ mental and physical health. A healthier company culture would contribute to balance the pressure of their working environment and reduce stress.

Giving your employees peace of mind by covering unexpected medical costs, offering them support when they need it or providing them with some activities to unwind from their job will contribute to their wellbeing and happiness at work and therefore on your company’s productivity.

Attract and retain top talent

Today, job seekers tend to prioritize employee benefits when considering several job offers and as result, health packages have become great recruiting tools. Providing medical benefits through a comprehensive group health insurance plan can help you stand out from your competitors when it comes to attracting key talents. After all, an appealing employee benefits package is about more than just an attractive salary.

In addition, providing comprehensive benefits to your employees can also reduce staff turnover at your company. Some companies may choose not to provide employee health benefits at all because they want to save money, however they put themselves at risk of losing experienced staff members who leave for better benefits and failing to attract new ones. To illustrate the importance of employee retention, you need to consider several factors that will directly impact your company’s bottom line each time one of your employees leaves the company. Replacing employees entails additional hiring and training costs, in both time and money, as well as a great deal of lost productivity on behalf of the new starter who has to get up to speed and the staff member who has to train them.

With high turnover, costs can quickly add up and exceed the budget you have set aside for hiring & payroll, in some cases this can even outstrip the amount saved by providing minimal health insurance or none at all. As a result, investing in your workforce is a key factor in your employees’ satisfaction and wellbeing, boosting staff retention.

Better company image

Providing extensive health benefits is a sign that your company actually cares about the wellbeing of its workforce. This shows that your company has strong values and is willing to invest in its employees. An employee-oriented culture will be highly positive in the eyes of your clients and partners and can encourage them to place their trust in a company that supports its employees.

It also shows your business partners that you are financially sustainable and already investing on the long term sustainability of your company, lending credibility to your business.

Last but not least, as we already mentioned, a company with a strong company image is also more likely to attract talented individuals and stand out from its competitors on the job market.

Offering the right health insurance options to your employees

Regardless of the size of your company, implementing healthcare and wellness programs is always a significant investment. However, the impact of a healthy workforce is easily noticeable in terms of productivity and employees’ satisfaction and the return on investment can be far more important.

If you are considering offering comprehensive international group health insurance coverage to your employees, know that APRIL International can tailor international insurance solutions to specifically meet your requirements and budget, whether you are a startup, an SME or a large corporation.

Feel free to contact your insurance broker to find out more about our corporate insurance solutions or get in touch with a member of our team - we will be happy to help you design the perfect coverage for your company!