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Trends in health benefits and employee health programmes

Compensation and benefits

Companies care about keeping their employees fit and motivate them towards a healthy lifestyle with many non-financial benefits. Large employers in particular try and do everything they can in terms of supporting health and prevention to contribute to the right lifestyle among their people. Corporate employee care now incorporates health programmes to support healthy habits among company employees. Essentially, this is risk management in favour of a healthy workplace. Companies engage in these programmes voluntarily and often invest large amounts of money in them.

Healthy employees – healthy company

Their primary objective is to make decisions and logistics easier for employees by providing access to healthy food options, exercise and quality healthcare. The international portal mapped out trends in the area of health benefits that companies currently offer employees above the basic legal framework. The key here is that employee health is gradually becoming a priority for employers.

What do workplace HEALTH PROGRAMMES actually include?

  • Massages at work
  • Support for one-time preventive examinations
  • Contribution towards year-round healthcare
  • Offering a healthy meal of the day option in the canteen
  • Psychological counselling
  • Nutritional counselling
  • First aid course
  • Healthy, ergonomic workplace with rest and relaxation zones
  • Health education (back school, etc.), accident prevention, parenting, stress management
  • Inviting specialists into the workplace (eye exams, foot exams, cholesterol checks, food intolerance checks)
  • Physiotherapist, rehabilitation exercises, convalescence
  • Support for exercise and sports activities
  • Health days/week – education, lectures, sampling of healthy meals and beverages

The investments that companies make into employee health often generate returns in the form of better attendance, increased productivity at work and improved workforce sustainability. This was presented by Paylab as a partner in the professional discussion on health benefits held in Bratislava, Slovakia in November 2017. (

We wrote about how non-financial benefits help people grow alongside their work in our previous blog post. The portal provides employees with the ability to compare their pay and benefits at the level of specific jobs in the region.

What health and well-being benefits do employers most often provide?

  • Voucher/contribution towards regeneration and relaxation activities
  • Fruits/vegetables at the workplace
  • Compensation for sick leave
  • Contributions towards cultural and sporting activities
  • Sick days – 3 to 5 days a year for quicker recovery
  • Supplemental health insurance
  • Additional vacation time

Above-standard healthcare is a premium benefit

Some companies try and offer their employees specific social advantages in the form of specialised preventive programmes, rehabilitation programmes or contributions towards year-round healthcare above the basic legal framework. It’s important to add that this benefit is relatively cost-intensive for employers.  

Mostly large companies with foreign capital offer this benefit to their employees. The prevalence and tradition of this benefit is different in each country. While up to 19 per cent of employees enjoy this benefit in Finland, the prevalence of this benefit in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe fluctuates at a level of 1 to 3 per cent in Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Lithuania, and at a level of 7 to 12 per cent in countries such as Croatia, Serbia, Estonia, Latvia and Poland.

This form of healthcare is primarily provided by private healthcare operators as a commercial service. Above-standard care programmes are often considered premium benefits. They are conditional upon seniority and job level. Such benefits are most often provided to top managers and middle management. It is widespread in strong sectors such as telecommunications, banking, insurance, IT, the pharmaceutical industry and consulting, and in certain industrial sectors such as the automobile industry. Some large assembly and production plants have set up in-house health centres that are always close at hand for employees.

People don’t want to go for preventive exams

The reality is that people undervalue regular preventative examinations, even when they are entitled to them under the law. They either forget or put them off so they don’t miss work, while others are put off by a fear that their doctors will “find something”. It is also related to the quality of healthcare and the education of patients with respect to prevention in the given country. However, health is highly private and often a sensitive area for employees.

If an employer lacks the funds to support a health programme, the least they can do is support their employees in terms of elementary prevention, which is paid from their health insurance and to which employees are entitled to, in the form of an exact number of days reserved for doctor’s appointments every calendar year.

Inspiration often comes from employees themselves

Employees, and not just companies, may also initiate a healthy lifestyle. In many companies, colleagues spontaneously play sports and inspire others. They represent the employer’s brand at various sporting events or motivate one another to lose weight or put on some muscle. A common example is exchanging healthy recipes. Many companies have added a healthy meal of the day or a vegetarian/vegan meal of the day and ample fresh fruits and vegetables because of requests from employees. There are companies that have brought in outside experts including clinical dieticians in the process of developing a varied menu in the employee canteen.

Communication and Market Research Specialist with focus on Compensation & Benefits