SSA employees prefer healthcare benefits over others in their benefits package

09 July 2018 3 min. read

Healthcare is a major priority amongst employees in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), according to new analysis from global risk advisory firm Willis Towers Watson. As per the firm’s research, 85% of the employees in the region value healthcare benefits from their companies more than others – such as bonuses and retirement benefits. 

Africa’s population has the youngest median age in the world, which might be a probable cause for the poor condition of financial planning amongst individuals in a number of countries across the continent, given that most do not have imminent retirement plans of age-related health issues to contend with.

Nevertheless, new research from Willis Towers Watson has revealed that this attitude is undergoing a significant shift, at least towards health-related planning. Through a detailed survey conducted across SSA, the consulting firm hoped to obtain an overview of the perception around employee benefits in the region, which could be leveraged by employers to improve the work environment.

Specifically, the research is aimed at helping employers better align with employees’ needs in the most cost-effective way possible. The report also offers insight into the potential challenges that firms are likely to face in the near future regarding employee benefits, and the key drivers that should influence the design of a benefit programme.

Priorities in employee benefit packages

According to the research, 85% of the employees across SSA value healthcare benefits the most in their company’s benefits programme, while 73% say that other healthcare benefits are important as well. Life insurance/accidental death insurance is also important for more than half of the respondents, at 65%.

Retirement benefits were of particular importance to 54% of the respondents, while 51% also value other allowances that are included in a benefits package. Correspondingly, the firm observed an increased awareness amongst employers to ramp up their health offerings in the benefits package.

Between 34% and 41% of employers, for instance, have plans to include chronic disease management in their programme over the next three years, which is of particular importance in a number of African countries that are particularly affected by virus-based diseases.

One global trend that firms have picked up on is the recognition of the importance of mental health and well-being. Between 33% and 43% of employers in the region have plans to introduce behavioural and emotional health management into their programmes over the next three-year period.

Other plans to bolster benefits packages include fitness-based benefits and lifestyle & risk management support from employers. Based on these initiatives nearly 70% of the firms in the region believe that their benefits package is sufficient in retaining employees, and might even attract talent, although 30% are not even aware of their spending on benefits.