UK employees are resisting accessing group protection plans because they are concerned that their employer will find out too much about their health or private life.
This is according to a new study from Legal & General which shows 20% who claim group protection is not relevant to their wellness have such privacy concerns.
The study of UK employees with access to group protection from their employer finds that privacy concerns are one of the top barriers to usage of group protection and added value services, including income protection, critical illness cover and employee assistance programmes.
Meanwhile more than a third (36%) of employees say they do not find their group protection policies relevant to their health, wealth and happiness; and of these, 20% cited concerns that their employer may get to know too much about their health or private life as a barrier.
Looking closer at employee assistance programmes (EAPs) the study found that among all group protection benefits, it rates the highest (34%) among all employees in terms of lack of relevance to their, or their family’s wellbeing.
A fifth (19%) of employees who feel it’s not relevant cite privacy concerns as a barrier to usage, (23% among women)
A further 24% say “it just doesn’t interest them” while 18% claim they are never off sick so don’t require it, while 18% don’t think their employer adequately communicates the relevance of the benefits.
On income protection and critical illness cover, the study found a quarter (25%) of employees don’t think their income protection is relevant to their wellbeing, with 15% citing privacy concerns, and a further 15% claiming their employer employer adequately communicates the relevance of the benefits.
Almost a third (30%) of employees don’t think their critical illness policy is relevant to their health, wealth and happiness, with 17% of these citing privacy concerns, (21% among men).
The survey also picked up on the fact that many employees are simply overwhelmed by wider corporate ‘noise’.
Almost one in five (19%) of those that say they don’t find their critical illness policy relevant to their health, wealth and happiness, said it was because they do not read all the company information, and there’s too much to take in, while 17% said the same for income protection and 14% also cite this as a reason for not feeling the EAP product is relevant to their wellbeing.
“Employers are investing in their employee benefits with what they believe is the best interests of employees at heart,” Colin Fitzgerald, distribution director – group protection at Legal & General, said.
“It is worrying to find that so many employees don’t connect the relevance of these benefits to their wellbeing. More stark a finding is that privacy concerns are a barrier to many employees’ usage of certain benefits.
“The reality is that employers offer these products to help their people be well, get better and be supported. And usage will never reflect badly on the employee. This is where a strong culture of trust in the workplace is so important. The privacy concerns might be more a reflection on employer trust than on the products themselves.
“That said, there’s a strong message here for providers and intermediaries. The issue we find is in the majority of workplaces, benefits are still considered on a standalone product basis; as an insurance solution when things go wrong. We need to work together as an industry to help employers better integrate benefit and wellbeing agendas, with an emphasis on prevention. More relevant and targeted communication has a strong part to play here.”