Unum today launches its Value of Help report, which aims to help organisations build more effective employee benefit strategies. This comes as research by the employee benefits provider reveals the key barriers to investing in employee health and wellbeing.

Despite the research finding that 68% of employers say investing in health and wellbeing has grown in importance over the past two years, over half (57%) report that budgets are a key barrier to doing so. This is followed by a hard to prove business case, a challenge experienced by over a quarter of respondents (27%). Other barriers include:

  • Planning cycles (23%)
  • Board support/consensus (23%)
  • Competing strategic priorities (22%)
  • Lack of understanding about benefits (21%)

These barriers suggest that the real value of employee benefits isn’t always clear to the entire organisation. This is one of the challenges Unum’s ‘Value of Help curve’, included in the ‘Employee benefits and the Value of Help’ report, aims to address. The model, which places 25 key health and wellbeing measures in tiers according to their commercial and emotional value, is based on employee and employer research.

The curve is comprised of four distinct tiers: Highly Valued, Valued, Emerging and Practical benefits. The Highly Valued tier includes measures such as HR advice and training, critical illness cover as well as mental health support. Unum has noticed an increase in the amount of businesses offering the latter. The number of mental health appointments booked on its health and wellbeing app, Help@hand, doubled between April and August 2020.

While the Highly Valued and Valued tiers of the curve represent some of the most sought-after benefits, the Practical layer includes more everyday benefits such as dental cover and fitness programmes. For its part, the Emerging layer encompasses those benefits that are becoming increasingly popular in line with wider technology and health trend. Immediate access to healthcare professionals including remote GPs is a good example of this. In 2020, Unum saw over 8,000 medical consultations booked via Help@hand, and over 1000 employers register for the service.


Glenn Thompson, Chief Distribution Officer at Unum UK, explained:

“It can be challenging to navigate all the different types of employee benefits in order to build a strategy that is right for your organisation. But understanding the commercial and emotional value of different kinds of help is a great place to start. Our Value of Help curve reveals how employers can use a dynamic, wide-ranging, and accessible array of benefits to satisfy multiple business needs, improve the wellbeing of their employees and deliver commercial value.

“With cost a key barrier to investment in employee benefits, the latter is an important point and viewing services through the value curve lens can help organisations understand what help can deliver workplace loyalty and productivity, alongside good health.”


Thompson continued:

“While understanding the true value of help is crucial to building an effective employee benefits strategy, help is only valuable if employees can access it quickly and easily when they need it. While choice is important, access to services is a close second. Employers should be mindful of employee awareness and engagement with the services they make available.

With our wellbeing app, we’ve witnessed how making services easy to access results in immediate value to employees. Nearly all of those who used the service last year were offered a GP appointment within two hours of request. Benefits like this help to close the perception gap, improve the emotional impact of measures on offer, and also boost the utilisation and return on investment of any health and wellbeing strategy.”


About the research:

1,024 UK employees and 350 employers were interviewed by Loudhouse (on behalf of Unum) in September 2020 on a range of issues related to health and wellbeing services offered in the workplace.

*The report can be downloaded here.

Lisa Baker

Author Lisa Baker

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