The gap in access to health and welfare benefits has grown in the pandemic

There is a reality to talk about: in the world of work the access to benefits It is not fair. Workers in management positions tend to have greater coverage of benefits over those of the law related to health issues compared to the lower-income workforce.

The study Health on demand of Mercer Marsh Benefits identified a gap between operational and executive staff linked to physical and mental health benefits provided by employers. “Not everyone has the same access to welfare benefits. Low-income workers are less likely to get health coverage through their employer, even though they have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

in a list of 16 top features to that of the law, which includes life insurance, medical coverage, workplace health clinics, personal accident insurance, vision care or mental health advice, in all of them there is a difference between the access that better paid workers and low-income staff have. The most marked are those of medical coverage in addition to social security.

“Only one in three low-income workers (33%) has access to medical coverage by their employer, compared to almost one in two (49%) high-wage workers.

In yet another example of the gap, despite the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the impact on the mental health of workers, while 23% of workers with higher salaries receive mental health advice from their employer, among the staff with ‘ a lower earnings, the ratio reduced to 17 percent.

Ariel Almazán, leader of Health Consulting at Mercer Marsh Benefits, believes that this trend is related to the fact that health benefits they have historically been considered a key talent retention strategy.

“It is part of an organizational structure that took place a few years ago, where the benefits were seen as a strategy of attraction or attraction. talent retention. So, suddenly, certain initiatives or benefits were aimed at prevention aimed at management populations, directors or senior managers, ”the specialist explains.

For Alejandra Toscano, CEO of DNE Consulting, there are several factors that caused this gap. The first is because there is a lack of knowledge about the positive impact that these initiatives can generate. The second reason is that the jobs with the lowest incomes are those that have higher turnover.

“Normally, operational positions are those that traditionally do not receive many benefits, it is even a cultural issue. Front of high rotation In these positions, companies see these benefits as a loss, rather than an investment. But they do not see these benefits as a way for people to stay, ”explains the specialist.

Among other reasons, AlejandrA Toscano also attributes this inequality to the fact that salary at industry level is still valued more than benefits that are higher than those of the law.

The most vulnerable staff

According to the Mexican Institute for Social Security (IMSS), the low-income workforce is five times more likely to die from Covid-19 compared to workers with above-average wages.

The specialists agree that one of the problems generated by the gap is that the operating staff, who have less access to health benefits, is also the one who is experiencing the greatest difficulties in seeking private medical help and which implies a greater lack of protection.

“Many of the employees who need help the most are the least likely to receive it, which means that employers may consider ‘reversing the pyramid’ and expanding the access to benefits, as well as the introduction of new types of aid for vulnerable populations ”, the study emphasizes.

Ariel Almazán emphasizes that the gap in access to health benefits it has a negative impact on the workforce that is more prone to vulnerability.

“Today we know that these workers with higher incomes have the opportunity to gain access to a better medical coverage, income protection or mental health counseling. What is needed to work in the short term and immediately is to be clear about the needs of the most disadvantaged groups ”, the specialist points out.

Paradoxically, explains Alejandra Toscano, the working population that does not receive this support from their employer is the one most exposed to the Covid-19 infections.

“Of course, they hold positions that cannot be developed from home. While better paid positions can go to home office, in operational positions there is no alternative. It forces them to go to work in person and they put themselves at risk because they have to use the subway or public transport where healthy distance does not exist.

Recommendations for companies

The first step to justifying benefits, specialists agree, is to understand that this is not an expense, but rather an investment that will reduce turnover at all levels and the staff motivation, an important element in improving productivity. According to the study, 57% are less likely to leave the company of the workers who received support from their employer and 81% feel more motivated.

Alejandra Toscano believes that an important step is to understand the impact of operating staff in the profitability of the businesses and the consequences that the fact that less protection for this workforce can generate for the company.

“There is no perception of the importance of human factor At this level, it’s a reality. I will start with a financial analysis of the impact at this level of losing a person, leaving or changing positions. There are companies where the operational part is the essence of the business and the fact that someone is absent, ill or leaving, of course, has an impact on productivity ”, says the CEO of DNE Consulting.

Ariel Almazán suggests that one of the ways to reduce the gap is a more intelligent investment in health benefits, which includes flexibility, equity, inclusion and digitization in remuneration packages.

“We have to remove the idea that it becomes an expense. It is a smart investment and should not be isolated from the organizational, productivity and sustainability strategies of the organization, ”says the leader of Health Consulting at Mercer Marsh Benefits.

Leave a Comment