Retail behemoth Tesco, Britain's largest private-sector employer, announced this week that it is set to institute a brand-new initiative aimed at providing its workforce with private healthcare benefits.
The chain will now offer its 310,000 UK staff unlimited virtual appointments with a general practitioner, seven days a week, to prevent having to wait extended periods for NHS appointments.
Workers will have access private GPs, who are able to issue private prescriptions that can be collected at pharmacies on the same day or delivered to the patient’s home.
They will also have access to nutritionists, counsellors, physiotherapists and sleep therapists.
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The suite of benefits will be available to Tesco front-line staff and managers, plus their immediate families living in the same household, across the UK, including Tesco Bank and the group's wholesale business Booker.
“This is a direct investment in the health of our colleagues,” noted Tesco UK People Director, James Goodman.
And whilst private healthcare isn’t a revolutionary benefit, it is one of the most-requested according to Deloitte data, as the UK’s national health service continues to struggle under the weight of demand.
By prioritising health and wellbeing, Tesco is also the latest firm to reflect the paradigm shift in the way corporations are approaching employee benefits. The company is recognising that addressing employees' holistic wellbeing yields greater satisfaction and loyalty, compared to more traditionally aesthetic perks.
Tesco, which previously provided more traditional benefits to staff, such as share schemes and staff discounts, last year also started offering advances on pay.
Responding to employee needs
The new health-centric benefit is a seismic shift in Tesco’s staff offering, and is symptomatic of the struggle that the retail industry is facing in attracting and retaining staff.
According to BBC data, the company has been forced to hike wages by more than 15% over the past year, to tempt prospective talent away from other employers.
A report published by the World Economic Forum highlighted the changing landscape of employee benefits, emphasising that organisations that prioritise employee wellbeing outperform their competitors.
Tesco's move aligns with this global trend, as the company redefines its relationship with employees beyond a mere transactional one.