For beaming employees, take a proactive approach to wellbeing

For beaming employees, take a proactive approach to wellbeing

Colin Perry

Colin Perry

Head of Corporate Marketing

This month is National Smile Month, with the alarming health of our nation’s teeth once again a cause for concern.

According to the latest annual Oral Health Survey from dental payment plan specialists Denplan, by Simplyhealth Professionals, one in 20 of us admit to never visiting a dentist1. The primary reason given is the cost of going for a check-up, however the implications for the NHS are considerable. Last year the British Dental Association revealed the annual cost of A&E treating dental patients, who could have sought treatment sooner, could be as much as £18 million2.

But what does this mean for businesses? In May 2017 the Oral Health Foundation called on employers and employees to prioritise their dental health, following new research which found that oral health problems, such as toothache, are costing the UK economy more than £105 million each year in sick days3.

Employers are recognising the impact a healthy workforce has on overall motivation and performance, with the Simplyhealth/CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work4 report stating that 44% of organisations agreed their health & wellbeing activity had improved employee morale and engagement. 31% indicated they had seen a reduction in sickness absence.

When considering benefits designed to support physical wellbeing, it helps to categorise them as either preventive (stopping problems before they occur) or restorative (solving problems when/after they occur). While it’s not necessarily this straightforward in the case of all benefits, it’s worth taking into consideration to ensure you give employees a range of benefits which can offer both proactive and reactive options.

The old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ could not be more relevant today. In the case of oral health, regular visits to a dental practice can help reduce the need for future treatments such as fillings, root canal treatment and crowns. Research in recent years has also proven the close links between poor oral health and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and problems during pregnancy.

Studies show that over half (51%) of people would cancel their dental appointments, while 65% of people would delay an appointment for up to three months, if they had financial worries5. The latest Workplace Health & Wellbeing Benefits Survey, from Simplyhealth, found that over half (56%) of employees surveyed considered dental plans a useful corporate benefit to have, and would appreciate access to it as part of their benefits package. To further support this point, two thirds (62%) of employees surveyed said they would consider a dental plan if offered by their employer.

There are also considerable perceived benefits from taking out a dental plan, and these are not just cost related. 55% of respondents stated they would worry less about the cost of dental treatment, and roughly a third (30%) stated it would lead them to take better care of their teeth. 1 in 3 (36%) also stated they would feel more positive that their employer cares for their wellbeing6.

Surprisingly, this same research highlighted a distinct lack of awareness of the impact of oral health on employee absence. Only a third (34%) of corporate decision makers that don’t currently offer a dental plan agreed that a dental plan helps to manage absenteeism. However among those businesses already offering a dental plan this figure was significantly higher, with 60% agreeing a dental plan helps manage absenteeism7.

Simplyhealth are constantly innovating to provide products and services that reflect the healthcare challenges business and employees are facing today. One rapidly emerging challenge is the increasingly ageing population, and a workforce which undoubtedly includes more informal carers than can be officially documented. Through our dental plans employees have the option to cover parents or stepparents as well as their dependants, which with the preventative nature of dental plans means they may need less time off in future to attend dependents’ treatments or surgeries.

Any company focusing on, and investing in, the health and wellbeing of their staff will want to ensure a positive outcome from their employee benefits. A dental benefit is a viable option that not only supports the general wellbeing of staff and their families, but is also accessible and relevant to every employee, no matter their age or life stage.

1 YouGov/Simplyhealth, 2018, Consumer Oral Health Survey 2018, Total respondents: 5,264 UK adults (aged 18+)

2 Reference


4 Simplyhealth/CIPD Health and Well-being at Work report, May 2018. Base 748 respondents.

5 YouGov/Simplyhealth, 2018, Consumer Oral Health Survey 2018, Total respondents: 5,264 UK adults (aged 18+)

6 Simplyhealth Workplace Health & Wellbeing Benefits Survey 2017, total sample size 2,509 employees (question asked to those that do have access to a dental plan currently)

7 Simplyhealth Workplace Health & Wellbeing Benefits Survey 2017, total sample size 512 corporate decision makers (199 offer dental plans, 313 do not offer dental plans)

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