Inspire Q2 2018

Health and wellbeing news from The Health Insurance Group

10 things you need to know about GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the new governing legislation that brings in more stringent requirements in how companies protect, store, process and manage personal data entrusted to them.

If your organisation does not comply with these changes by 25 May, you will face consequences which could include heavy fines. 


When does it come into effect?

GDPR replaces the current Data Protection Directive and Data Protection Act 1998 and will be effective in all EU Member States from 25 May 2018.

It’s designed to implement stronger data security and privacy rules amongst companies, placing control of personal data firmly in the hands of the individuals it identifies, resulting in new stronger rights.

Who does it affect?

The task of complying with this new regulation falls upon businesses and organisations that offer goods or services to citizens in the EU. It applies to all business processing, targeting or monitoring of EU/UK citizens, wherever in the world they may be.

Companies with clients or workers will need to comply with these changes, and must process their data lawfully, and for legitimate and necessary reasons. Consent must be freely given and will be needed from all workers, contractors, job candidates, clients and anyone else whose data is handled.

So, with the deadline to GDPR fast approaching, here are 10 key things you need to know on how to prepare for this.

1. Consent
As of 25 May, unless an individual has opted-in or given you consent for further contact before this date, marketing to them will not be allowed.

Consent is a requirement of the GDPR rules, and must be in a clear, accessible form, using plain language. Without this in place, you cannot process an individual’s data, and under no circumstances can you pass it on.

Personal data includes anything that can be used to identify an individual such as:

  • Name
  • Photo
  • Email address
  • Location
  • Bank details
  • Posts on social networking websites
  • Medical information
  • Computer IP address

2. Privacy notices and policy
Privacy policies must be declared to all customers. These should include:

  • What information you collect and how
  • What it is used for
  • Personal data and legal rights
  • Consent
  • Who to contact in respect of a privacy complaint

3. Deletion
All companies must have, and keep up to date, their data retention schedule with the ability to delete data from the system, when necessary.

4. Rights
If an individual enacts their right to request copies of all information a company holds on them, you can no longer charge for this service, and you must comply within 30 days (you previously had 40 days).

Additional customer rights are in place around individuals' ability to:

  • Request access to their personal data
  • Request correction of their personal data
  • Request erasure of their personal data
  • Object to processing of their personal data
  • Request restriction of processing of their personal data
  • Request transfer of their personal data
  • Right to withdraw their consent

Companies should be in a position to deal with these requests.

5. Security
You must take reasonable steps to ensure all the data you hold is secure, with protection in place.

6. 3rd party processors
Contracts need to be in place with any 3rd party processors who process data on your behalf, and must outline the obligation on them to adhere to the GDPR rules.

7. Recording of processing activities
An organisation that is a data controller or processor must keep a list of the processing activities that they undertake, which can be requested by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

8. Privacy by design
Organisations should evidence their understanding of the data protection requirements in key business decisions, activity changes, and strategy plans as an integral part of these processes, and not leave it as an afterthought.

9. Data governance
Policies and procedures concerning the security and use of data should be established.

10. Training and communications
Employees should be made aware of any GDPR rules which impact on their roles and responsibilities. Communication and training should be carried out to evidence this.

Failing to comply...

If your organisation does not comply with these changes by 25 May, you will face consequences which could include heavy fines. Depending on which is greater, these could be up to 4% of your total annual turnover, or €20 million.

This information is based upon The Health Insurance Group's understanding of the GDPR requirements and is not legal advice. To find out more on what you need to do to make sure your business is ready for GDPR, visit:

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Mental health: a growing issue

One in four people in England will have a mental health condition in their lifetime. In 2014 one in six adults in England had a common mental health disorder in the previous week and of those around half were experiencing more severe symptoms1.

This represents a significant proportion of the working age population, so this is not an issue that employers can afford to ignore. 


There are currently 1.5 million individuals in the UK who work with a diagnosed mental health condition, but this is probably the tip of the iceberg.

Many who experience mental health symptoms may be suffering in silence, or frightened to reveal their condition for fear of the consequences. And with good reason because those who have a mental health condition are twice as likely to lose their job as those without a mental health condition, and at higher rates than those with physical conditions too1.

Poor mental health has a major impact on an individual’s life, health, and on those around them

The impact can include panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, lack of concentration, and low self-esteem and confidence. It can leave people less able to cope with any pressures at home or work, feelings of social isolation, the breakdown of relationships, and ultimately can end in suicide.

Certain industries are experiencing higher rates of suicide than before, such as construction, and nursing. In predominantly male industries, including construction and farming, the working environment, its pressures and long hours, coupled with reticence about discussing mental health and the tendency to bottle-up feelings, have resulted in suicide rates that are 35 per cent higher than in other industries1.

The economic cost is equally alarming

Deloitte has recently completed some financial analysis that includes the cost of presenteeism, absenteeism, and staff turnover due to mental poor health2. It concluded that £8bn is lost every year in absence, between £17-26bn in presenteeism (working while unwell), another £8bn in staff turnover. Therefore the cost per every employee in work is between £1,205 and £1,560 each year, regardless of their mental health.

Deloitte’s analysis also found that the cost varies significantly between sectors with industries such as finance and insurance having higher than the average costs, while the retail or leisure industries are slightly lower than average. This still makes it too expensive to ignore! 

It is not all bad news though

There are signs that these trends are changing for the better as more employers focus on improving mental health at work. There are a growing number of employers of all sizes who are making a commitment to do more and improve practice.

Deloitte’s analysis demonstrated that the return on investment of implementing workplace mental health interventions could be significant, suggesting that for every £1 spent there was a potential return of in excess of £4. Indeed research is emerging that suggests that investing in management mental health training programmes reduced sickness absence with a ROI of nearly £10 for every £1 spent on the training. There is a sound business case to do more.

Employers who are proactively managing and supporting mental health at work know that they will have a more productive, committed, innovative and profitable business and workforce. That same proactive approach also improves employee engagement, the Holy Grail to getting the best out of your workforce. Engagement means that employees are treated well, valued, respected and listened to. This, coupled with good leadership and proactive wellbeing, can really help a business stand out from others in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Not only is there a business case, but legally, morally and ethically it is also the right thing to do too

Regardless of their mental health, employers have a legal duty of care under the H&S Act 1974 to ensure that the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees is protected. Employers are responsible for assessing any risks or hazards arising from work, which includes work related stress.

Mental health is also considered to be a disability under the Equality Act 2010. If an employee has a recognised mental health condition they have a legal right to not be discriminated against in employment, therefore they should expect to be treated equally to everyone else.

With the ever-increasing challenges of a reduced labour market, and skills shortages in the UK, employers should consider what they could do to attract and retain the best talent available. Smart employers know that they need to do more to help and support their employees and create good places to work for all.

[1] ‘Thriving at Work: the Stevenson/ Farmer review of mental health and employers.’  (2017). Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health

[2] ‘Mental Health Review’. (2017). Deloitte

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Promoting workplace mental health

Good mental health should be a key priority for every employer. Showing that you treat your employees well is a good business strategy. It helps attract the right people to your business and also demonstrates to customers and clients that you are an ethical business; a very effective marketing strategy.

Starting to build a mentally healthy workplace should not be difficult, or expensive to do. Here are some easy and practical steps that an employer can take:

Laying the foundations

  1. Develop a clear framework and policy
    Consider developing a mental health and wellbeing policy, or action plan, tailored to the needs of your workforce. It should set out where you are now, how you will support employees, how you will tackle the causes of mental ill health, how it will be managed, and what you will do to promote wellbeing. It can also outline what training is available and will work best if developed in collaboration with employees.

    This is a statement of commitment and intent. But don’t forget to revisit and refresh it at regular intervals.


  2. Lead from the top
    Get senior level, or board commitment from the start, and appoint a senior champion who is responsible for mental health. Leaders must be prepared to role model the behaviours and values that create the right culture for a mentally healthy workplace.


  3. Understand how you will measure success
    Consider what information is needed to measure how you are doing and what information you could use to monitor progress and measure effectiveness.

    Absence data, staff surveys etc. will help you spot any trends and focus support in the right way.


  4. Raise awareness and remove the stigma of mental health
    Encourage everyone in the business to be open and talk about mental health. This will make it easier for everyone to take care of themselves and their colleagues.

    Senior employees have a role to play here if they can draw from any of their own experiences of mental health. Sharing this can help to break down some of the barriers to discussing mental health openly.

    Building the confidence of managers

  5. Supporting and developing managers
    Train your managers to manage people, as well as getting the job done. Don’t assume they will automatically have these people management skills.

    Ensure that your managers are aware of your mental health policy, and how they should handle absence and return to work.


  6. Embed good management practices
    Ensure that supporting mental health and wellbeing is part of your management job role, and that they are aware it is a key performance indicator.

    Be clear about how and when you expect managers to conduct reviews or appraisals, making sure that they ask how their employees are doing. It should not just be about performance.


  7. Role model good behaviours
    Encourage managers to look after their own wellbeing and to adopt leadership styles that are more transformational than transactional in nature. Help them to understand how their behaviours could affect others in their team.


  8. Train managers to understand mental health
    Invest in training managers to be able to understand mental health, spot the signs and symptoms early, and to know where to signpost their staff towards more specialist support if necessary.

    Encourage use of wellness action plans to help managers start the conversation about mental health.

    Building the right culture

  9. Induction
    From the start of employment make sure that all new employees are aware of the policies and procedures that affect them and their mental health, and where they can go for support.


  10. Communication and engagement
    Build mental health into all forms of communication processes that you use. Think about how you will get your message out to others during team meetings, appraisals etc. and about how you will get feedback on what you are doing.


  11. Be inclusive
    Make sure that everyone who works for you has a voice, and can get equal access to managers time, and the support and initiatives that you offer. This includes remote workers, those with disabilities, and those who may not have access to computers or have the right skills to read written communications.

    Employing people with a mental health condition can enrich the workforce and allow others to understand it better.


  12. Create champions across the business
    Think about creating a team of people from across the business that can motivate and communicate with others. They can act as a bridge between senior managers and the workforce, communicating what’s happening backward and forward, and help to drive wellbeing in the business.

    Developing the new ‘norm’

  13. Be flexible
    Recognise that things change and that people may need different things as you move forward.


  14. Keep the momentum building
    Keep mental health high on the agenda through your networks, champions, awareness-raising activities and fun interventions.


  15. Use feedback and data wisely
    Develop a mechanism for feedback and monitoring to refine and modify your approach and processes as necessary. Be prepared to stop something that isn’t working, or change it so that it does.


  16. Build it into social occasions too
    Think about how you can encourage employees to get involved in charity or community events. Having fun, connecting with, and helping others is a great way to improve mental health.

    Finally make sure that being open and supportive of mental health and wellbeing becomes part of the way you do business, and part of your everyday practice. It must become ‘the way we do things around here’.

    Please speak to your usual adviser if you would like to find out more. 

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How to look after your mental wellbeing

One in six of us is expected to experience a common mental health problem at some point. So how can we protect ourselves against poor mental health at work?

The New Economics Foundation has done some research on how we improve wellbeing and mental health and they have come up with ‘Five ways to wellbeing’, an evidence-based set of actions we can all adopt.


Five ways to wellbeing:

  1. Connect – social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing. Therefore consider connecting with someone regularly:

    • Talk to someone face to face instead of emailing them.
    • Take time to spend with friends and family.
    • Speak to someone new.
    • Car share or travel to work with a colleague.
    • Join a social club.
    • Take time to check in with colleagues and really listen to what they have to say.
    • If you are feeling low, be open about it and talk to someone early on. Sharing how you are feeling can often help you cope with low moods or anxiety. It may also allow others to share their feelings too.
  2. Be active – many of us are not active enough and taking up regular physical activity is known to lower levels of anxiety and depression for everyone. It doesn’t need to be anything too strenuous to make a positive difference. Going for a lunchtime walk is fine, and can also help you connect with colleagues.

    Other ways to build activity into your working day:

    • Use the stairs when possible and avoid the lift.
    • Consider how you get to work – can you build in activity by walking, cycling or just getting off the bus one stop earlier and walking the last bit?
    • Get involved in a charity event or arrange social activity with colleagues such as badminton, or table tennis.
    • Make sure you leave your workstation and desk regularly to walk around.
    • Staying in one position can tense muscles – take time to stretch out and maybe roll your shoulders and stretch your back.
  3. Take notice – be more aware of what is going on around you, or be ‘present’ by savouring the moment, appreciating the environment and assessing all the things you are grateful for.

    Some suggestions on how to do this at work:

    • Add some greenery to the office or work environment. Connecting with nature is proven to be very beneficial to mental health.
    • A clean desk or workstation is often calming – make sure that you take the time to clear it.
    • Be aware of others in the workplace, are they acting differently, or seem quiet?
    • Change it up – take a different route to work, change where you go for lunch etc.
    • Walk outside and appreciate the environment – even cities have green space.
  4. Learn – We know that being curious and learning throughout life enhances self-esteem and encourages better social interactions with others. Whatever age we are, opportunities to learn can often lift mood and make someone feel valued. Goal-setting is strongly associated with improved wellbeing.

    Take time to learn something new:

    • Join an adult education class, or take up training opportunities at work.
    • Set up a book club.
    • Discuss current news topics with colleagues but try not to have too strong a viewpoint!
    • Puzzles, crosswords and Sudoku are good for training the brain and switching off from work.
  5. Give – joining in with community and social activities that help others is known to improve wellbeing.


    • Organising a community project with colleagues.
    • Getting involved in charity fundraising events.
    • Taking time every day to do a ‘good deed’ for someone else.
  6. Lifestyle – we have mentioned physical activity but looking after what we put in our bodies and how we relax is also important for improving mental health. This is not included in the New Economics Foundation’s review but is just as important.

    Here are some tips:

    • Eat a healthy balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, protein, dairy products, oily fish, and drink plenty of water.
    • Limit caffeine and try to avoid sugary drinks at work – the energy boost will soon go and may leave you craving more.
    • Drink alcohol sensibly – alcohol affects your brain, sleep and ability to concentrate. Occasional light drinking is ok but stick to the recommended alcohol limit of 14 units a week for men and women.
    • Substances like drugs, and nicotine from cigarettes, are addictive and can seriously damage your health. Try to avoid smoking or taking anything in the first place, or seek support to change these habits early.
    • Get 7-8 hours sleep a night – sleep can really impact how you feel. An occasional late night is ok but try not to make it a regular occurrence. Take time to wind down at the end of the day, turn off electronic devices, read a book, and make sure that you try to go to bed at regular times to get into a good routine.
    • Take up a hobby – find something that you love that is not related to work. It also helps you to meet new people and broaden horizons.
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Latest news from the insurers

Did you see the latest updates from the insurers?

Here's the latest from Aviva, AXA PPP, Bupa, Vitality, BHSF and Westfield Health.



14 March: Aviva introduces fresh approach to mental health service
Aviva is launching a new mental health service which will help employees of its large corporate clients get quick, specialised support when experiencing mental health conditions.

11 January: Aviva withdraws from IPMI market
Following careful consideration, Aviva is withdrawing from the IPMI market to focus more of its health insurance resources on the UK PMI market.


9 February: Low self esteem and body confidence are fuelling love life and fitness fears
New research by AXA PPP healthcare reveals that fears borne of low self-esteem and body confidence are causing love lives to suffer and stopping the UK’s working population from being more active. To help people harness their fears into a motivating force to live the life they want to lead, AXA PPP healthcare has launched a new campaign – Own Your Fears.


6 April: Mental health a boardroom priority for two-thirds of UK businesses
Bupa is launching Business Mental Health Advantage – the most extensive mental health cover for businesses and their employees. The Bupa Business Mental Health Advantage is a new feature for its business health insurance cover. From 1 April it will provide employees with support and treatment to manage all* long-term mental health issues.

4 April: New partnership gives Bupa UK customers greater access to the latest cancer fighting technology
Bupa UK health insurance customers will have greater access to a new state-of-the-art cancer treatment within the next few weeks, thanks to a new partnership with the Proton Therapy Centre.


14 March: Vitality teams up with Amazon to help people get healthy
Vitality has launched Vitality Alexa Skill, providing healthy living tips, recipes and workouts for those looking for fitness and wellbeing inspiration.

21 February: VitalityHealth launches new Vitality GP service
VitalityHealth has launched a new Vitality GP service which transforms the health insurer’s capability to deliver class-leading primary care benefits that members can access quickly and easily.

11 January: Vitality launches new Value Statement as it hands out £63 million worth of rewards
Vitality has launched new half-yearly Value Statements for its one million members to demonstrate the extra value and rewards they receive for leading a healthy lifestyle.

Best of the rest

20 February: BHSF sets up first private medical practice at Bruntwood’s Cornerblock
The medical practice, which is set to open its doors in early spring, is a new venture for BHSF and will offer business professionals in the Colmore Business District access to private GP services in a central and convenient location during the working hours of 8:30 to 17:00.

29 January: Westfield Health announces acquisition of Bolton & District Hospital Saturday Council
Leading health and wellbeing provider, Westfield Health, has acquired health cash plan provider Bolton & District Hospital Saturday Council (BDHSC).

Please speak to your usual adviser if you would like to find out more.

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