We asked Hogan O’Dowda, Healthcare Partner with WPA, for his insight into how a good healthcare policy can boost a company’s scope for recruitment and retention, not to mention offering vital health support for employees.

The current employment situation

Now is a very difficult time to be recruiting new staff or just trying to keep a team together. There is a sense of desperation to attract new talent and many employers are having to think out of the box to improve retention and recruitment, with a range of financial and other reward strategies.

Employees turn to their employers

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive backlog within the NHS. The key setbacks are back-dated treatment and an ever-growing waiting list (5.83 million as of 11 November 2021). With frustration and worry, many employees are turning to their employer for support, as it seems like the only appropriate place to go. Putting in place a healthcare plan for employees is one of the few offerings that is mutually beneficial. 

Top three reasons for short and long term absence

We asked employers to list the top reasons for staff absence, (the percentage relates to the number of respondents that included that condition in their top three).


Short term absence:

  • 92% ‘minor illnesses’ e.g colds/migraines/upset stomach
  • 52% Musculoskeletal injuries e.g neck strains and repetitive strain injury, including back pain
  • 33% Stress


Long term absence:

  • 59% Mental ill health
  • 53% Musculoskeletal injuries e.g neck strains and repetitive strain injury, including back pain
  • 46% Acute medical conditions e.g for example stroke, heart attack and cancer


Options for the employer

There is a presumption that private health insurance and Healthcare Products are very expensive, which may put off employers from investigating the options available. However, at WPA, we have cash plans beginning at just £5 per month, whilst the average cost for commercial private health insurance of a 30 year old is just £35 per month.

There is a large range of benefits that compliment different situations. A popular choice is a cash plan which offers benefit for: Optical, Dental, Therapy, Remote GP, Employee Assistance Programme etc. Whilst others realise that the scheme can prevent staff being off sick for extended periods, and set up a full healthcare policy including inpatient, outpatient and cancer cover.

Currently in the UK, around 6.8 million people are covered by Private Health Insurance and 3.3 million people are covered by a Health Cash Plan. Of those totals, 78% are through commercial policies.

Benefit of a healthcare policy

There are many benefits for both the employer and employee who have a healthcare policy.

Employee benefits:

  • Reduce hospital and specialist waiting times thereby increasing the speed of diagnosis and treatment
  • Provide access to treatment/facilities that are potentially not available on the NHS
  • Offer comfort, privacy, flexibility and peace of mind
  • The freedom to choose when, where and who provides the treatment


Employer benefits:

  • Contribute towards reducing employee absence and accelerating return to work
  • Minimise disruption through planned absence (book leave for treatment)
  • Aid recruitment and retention
  • Demonstrate employees are valued thereby increasing staff morale, engagement, and productivity
  • Help towards your duty of care to employees


At this testing time for recruitment and retention it is important that employers listen to the needs of their staff. When people feel like they have no place to turn whether that be with their mental or physical health, they are likely to turn to their employer. It is very important to have a planned system in place to support the team.

I’m Hogan O’Dowda, a Healthcare Practice Partner with WPA. My focus is to help new customers buy medical insurance; particularly the self-employed, company directors and professionals. I also specialise in dealing with company policies for 2 employees and above. I am here to help you at every stage of your journey. WPA is a not-for-profit organisation that offers ground-breaking personal and business health insurance policies that have truly revolutionised healthcare in the UK.

Sage Accountant Partner Logoiris kashflowFreeagent