Investing In Employee’s Healthcare Boosts Service Delivery — Abu

Senior vice president of People Operations at Reliance HMO, Leila Abu

Investing in employee healthcare and ensuring their well-being creates a positive environment for employees to thrive and deliver the highest quality of service to clients, thereby ensuring business goals are achieved, the senior vice president of People Operations at Reliance HMO, Leila Abu, posited.

This perspective underscores why modern businesses have prioritized employee health and well-being to improve overall performance and service quality, she added.

According to global insurance market report, Nigeria has one of the lowest insurance penetration rates (0.5 per cent) in Africa, compared to 12.2 per cent in South Africa.

Abu, while discussing the direct connection between employee wellbeing, driven by comprehensive health insurance plans and overall business profitability on Lagos Talks 91.3 FM’s “Health Talk” segment, averred that the Nigerian insurance industry has struggled with significant trust and confidence issues dating back to the early 19th century.

“However, emerging businesses now understand how employees’ health issues can reduce productivity. They are actively exploring various reliable health insurance options to empower their workforce and improve productivity. Research shows that health-related absenteeism costs small businesses between N23,399 and N113,399 per employee per year. That number rises to between N24,650 and N414,700 for large businesses,” she revealed.

Leila Abu addressed the common misconception among employers that employees are perpetually healthy and explained how unexpected health issues can impose a heavy financial burden on employees. She stated, “Unfortunately, some employers assume their employees are healthy, and there is no certainty they will fall ill. Healthcare does not work that way; accidents happen every day, and paying out of pocket for emergency care can severely impact anyone’s finances.”

Abu also noted that a common trend among top-tier companies is establishing a strategic advantage in their industry by providing comprehensive healthcare benefits.

“Top companies now use access to healthcare as a strategy for keeping their best talent. This is also a tactic used to attract the best talent in the market. Employees feel valued when they know their company covers healthcare for them and their families,” she shared. According to her, this approach helps them retain top-performing employees and attracts high-value talent, giving them a competitive edge in the talent marketplace.

2023 research from the WEF showed that businesses with comprehensive health initiatives recorded a 115 per cent growth in earnings per share compared with their competitors’ 27 per cent earnings per share, underscoring the competitive edge and financial benefits for businesses prioritising their employee health and well-being.

Furthermore, Leila touched on the demanding situations employees face and how investing in their health can improve and sustain productivity and profitability for business owners. “The pressure to perform can be very draining for employees, and maintaining or attaining profitability remains a priority for every business owner. That is why our healthcare plans were designed to keep people healthy and businesses productive,” she emphasised.

Regarding the expectations from HMOs, Leila highlighted the comprehensive Reliance HMO’s health insurance benefits, which extend beyond mere hospital visits. “Health insurance benefits at Reliance HMO go beyond hospital visits when people fall sick. They also include preventive care such as wellness checks to monitor health status, gym access for fitness, health talks for lifestyle modifications, and telemedicine for days when you do not want to visit the hospital,” she elaborated, adding that these holistic benefits provide employers with preventive care and overall well-being, which they need to foster a healthier and more engaged workforce.

The key insight from Leila Abu’s interviews is the critical role of health insurance in performance and business growth. By strategically investing in employees’ health and well-being, business owners can enhance their workforce’s performance and boost business competitiveness. This forward-thinking approach to health insurance is essential for businesses aiming to thrive in today’s dynamic market.

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