Christian Bale, Lady Gaga, Naomi Campbell, Lindsay Lohan, Katt Williams, Cesar Millan and Lance
Armstrong have all been dubbed ‘horrible employers’ by their past staff members. While treating staff
like nothing more than hired help may be the norm for some Hollywood A-listers, when employers feel
undervalued and unappreciated, a loss of productivity is the results. Studies show that happy
employees can be up to 20 percent more productive than those that are discontented and 80 percent
of workers would choose a lesser-paying job with good health benefits over a job with no benefits.
Leroux Delport, Head of Distribution at African Unity, believes there is a lot that companies and
business owners can do to make their employees happy and to keep them in that state of mind, one
of which is ‘group benefits’. Group benefits provide the opportunity for employees, who may
previously not have been able to afford cover, the ability to protect themselves and their families. This
constitutes a significant step towards attaining socio-economic stability in the country”, he said.
According to the World Health Organisation, almost everyone will be permanently or temporarily
disabled at some point in their lives. In South Africa, chronic diseases are on the rise, with cancers,
lifestyle diseases, like diabetes and heart disease; stress related conditions and muscular skeletal
conditions amongst the most prevalent.
“Without the safeguard of an income protector policy, the disability of a breadwinner could result in
financial ruin for the family. Having an income protection policy in the case of disability or a funeral
plan in the case of death, would relieve the financial stress during these difficult times”, said Leroux.
“A report by the Association for Savings and Investment SA (ASISA) reveals that pay-outs for death,
disability or severe illness amounted to R63.7 billion in the year ending June 2018. Furthermore, that
there was a 21 percent increase in claims by individuals on employer disability cover schemes. The
report further indicates that there were 5.7 million long term policies purchased over the period,
constituting a 12 percent increase over the previous year.”
Leroux believes that this is partly due to a tricky economy in which employees are depending on their
employer to provide access to adequate protection for themselves and their loved ones should they
become disabled, lose their job or even die. He adds that companies with as few as 10 employees
would be eligible to take out group benefits for their employees.
“For the employer, this means structuring risk benefits that are diverse and can adapt as the needs of
the group changes. For the employee, group risk cover makes a lot of sense. Not only are there
advantages of economies of scale, risks are spread across the entire group and there is often little or
no underwriting, meaning that employees often are not required to undergo medicals before being
covered. In some cases, the company may also subsidise the premiums. Many insurance companies
are working in conjunction with employer groups to customise products to suit their workforce. Current
trends in group benefits extend far beyond the traditional health and life insurance, into areas such as
funeral cover and ‘living benefits’ where employees are able enjoy benefits such as ambulance
services, legal services and the like.”
There are potential knock-on benefits too of having a happy and productive workforce. In reference to
a recent edition of the World Happiness Report, findings seems to suggest a correlation between job
satisfaction and the number of sick days taken by members of staff.
Communication is a vital element of structuring a suitable pool of benefits for staff members, and it will
ultimately determine the success of such an offering.
“It makes no sense, for example, to offer maternity benefits to a stable group of employees who have
already finished building their families. In the same way, it would certainly be a worthwhile idea to
offer an element of physiotherapy benefits to workers who endure a very physically active workday,”
said Leroux. “I recommend that anyone planning to join a new company, should ask detailed
questions about the nature and cost of benefits offered by the company. This includes whether it is a
treated as a salary sacrifice or if it is fully funded by the company, whether it extends to new
employees, and whether it is likely to grow or adapt as the company (and its workforce) grows. And
get it all in writing.”