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Employees’ health and wellbeing top-of-mind for Philippine employers as they operate in the new normal

Willis Towers Watson survey also finds companies reviewing their 2021 healthcare strategy and prioritizing high quality mental health solutions

July 27, 2020

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MANILA, 27 July 2020 – As companies in the Philippines start to restore stability for their businesses and employees, many organizations are proactively enhancing their healthcare and wellbeing programs according to a new survey examining the business impact of Covid-19 on benefits by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company. The survey, conducted in June, found that more than 60% of the companies anticipate a moderate to large negative impact on their business in the next year, and have already taken or plan to make changes to their benefit programs.

To cope with the likely prolonged economic challenges ahead, half of the organizations have taken actions to reduce cost through actions such as hiring freeze, while others are planning or considering to take further steps such as furloughs (20%), workforce reduction (24%), reducing or delaying merit increases (23%), salary freeze (18%), salary reduction (12%) and reducing annual bonus accruals (25%) for the remainder of 2020.

During this difficult time, employees’ safety and mental health has come up as a top priority for most employers. Three in five of the respondents have already or plan to make changes to their benefits programs. Companies that have had a negative impact from the pandemic are more likely than those who have been less affected to change course.

“We find it heartening that employers are actively looking at ways and doing what they can to support their workers despite facing significant challenges. By taking positive actions around health and wellbeing, companies are putting people first, and that’s an investment that’s likely to build employee loyalty, raise engagement and enhance productivity,” said Susan La Chica, Head of Health and Benefits, Philippines at Willis Towers Watson.

The survey found that three out of five employers in the Philippines believe Covid-19 will have a moderate to large negative impact on employee wellbeing. Employers are looking at enhancing wellbeing programs (78%) and health care benefits (37%). In particular, almost half of the employers plan to enhance mental health services and stress or resilience management for their employees over the next six months.

With the increased focus on wellbeing, more than 60% of organizations have promoted telemedicine availability and online emotional/mental health services for their employees during the pandemic. Almost half have also prioritized paid and unpaid leave policies, as well as communicating about wellbeing apps to support their workforce in maintaining their physical and emotional wellbeing especially when they work-from-home. Employers have also been promoting Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services (54%) to their employees.

In addition, companies are making it easier for employees to get help across all aspects of the wellbeing spectrum. Many are supporting their employees to alleviate anxiety through virtual interactions such as:

  • Increasing access to video-conferencing to allow for virtual meetings to keep employees connected around the world (88%)
  • Offering new virtual solutions that make it easy to implement and support employees to work-from-home (72%)
  • Fostering opportunities for employees to connect for non-work purposes (64%)
  • Offering flexible work hours to allow employees to tend to child or elder-care responsibilities (51%)

In the last few months, more than half of the respondents have trained their managers to better manage and engage a remote workforce, while many are planning or considering to take actions to support employees who maybe feeling lonely or disconnected from work. As more companies in the Philippines are likely to include telecommuting as an essential work arrangement option for the remainder of this year, employers are also looking at broadening its current programs such as enhancing virtual care (68%) and prioritizing high quality mental health solutions to support their employees (67%) as they revise their healthcare strategy for next year.

“With the ongoing pandemic, employers should also review their vendor performance and costs, while they monitor the employee utilization of benefits as they plan for 2021. Companies can expect health care, sick leave and group life insurance costs to continue to rise later this year and into the next year,” added Susan.

About the survey

A total of 100 employers in the Philippines participated in the 2020 Restoring Stability survey, which was conducted during the week of 1 to 12 June 2020. These companies represent around 300,000 employees across industries in the country.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 45,000 employees serving more than 140 countries and markets. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas – the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.

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