Inspire winter 2019

The latest health and wellbeing news from Towergate Health & Protection

Welcome to the latest edition of Inspire, our quarterly newsletter, designed to keep you informed about the issues that could be relevant to your business.

In this edition we look at why the new year is a great time to engage employees with your benefits package.

You can also read about how to protect your business from cyber crime; why benefits are more than just employee perks; and the risks facing all small businesses.

Why new year is the perfect time to engage your employees with their health and wellbeing benefits

New year is traditionally the time when people decide to get fit, join a gym or try a new diet so it’s the perfect time for employers to start an engagement programme around health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Communicating and engaging with people about the benefits they have is one of the biggest challenges employers have1 so why not take this opportunity to develop a 12 month wellbeing engagement programme for 2020.


The first step is to review the benefits you are offering to make sure they are still fit for purpose. Ask your employees what they think of the benefits they receive, and which ones they value the most, and assess how often they are being used.

Then you can develop an engagement programme to help encourage your team members to think about their health and wellbeing throughout the year, and not just in January. There are many easy ways to do this.

Promote your benefit offerings

One of the issues with poor take up of benefits is that people aren’t aware, or don’t remember, what they have available to them. Regular communication of the key benefit features can help to keep this engagement up.

Posters promoting the EAP phone number should be included in places where employees can make a note of it in private, for example, in the break room, corridors or on the walls in the toilets, so they can write it down if they want to without anyone asking them questions.

If your benefits include health screenings, be sure to actively run health screenings in the workplace and signpost employees towards support services if they have results which weren’t positive or need some action to be taken. Support services can include an EAP, or an online GP consultation service if this is available through one of your other employee benefits.

Create a positive wellbeing culture

Take actions to create a positive culture of wellbeing in the workplace through example and through offering opportunities for everyone to improve their wellbeing, not just through engaging with their benefits, but on a daily basis.

Encourage people to use their lunch break to go outside and be active and make sure managers are being good role models by not staying at their desks eating sandwiches, while telling people to take a break. Employees will follow by example.

Offer an open-door policy for people who want to talk through stress they are experiencing which might be impacting on their work, even if the cause is not work-related. People who feel they can trust their managers and talk to them are going to have a better work experience.

Offer resilience training and mental health support training so that people can cope better when things do go wrong and team leaders are better equipped to spot when problems occur. Remember that poor work performance might be linked to something completely non-work related.

Why is wellbeing at work important?

There are many ways you can help your workforce to improve their overall health and wellbeing and not just for their own lives. Research has shown that healthier happier people are more likely to be productive at work2.

If you have goals in 2020 that include reducing sickness absence and increasing recruitment and retention of the best people, then creating a strong wellbeing engagement programme which runs positively throughout the year, can really help towards achieving that.

In fact, studies have shown the companies which have employee benefits in place but don’t communicate about them, still have the same sickness absence levels as companies that don’t have any benefits at all3. Which shows the genuine importance of adding a communications and engagement programme in with any employee benefits package.

By offering the right benefits and communicating effectively with employees about their health and wellbeing, you can create a positive healthy culture and genuinely show your team just how much you value them and respect them.

So if you are taking the time to review your employee benefits for 2020 then take the time to review how you communicate about them to your teams at the same time as it will make a big difference, creating positive benefits for them and for you as an employer.


  1. Towergate EB Live Survey Results October 2019
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Protecting your business against cyber and data crime

Cyber crime is an increasing risk for businesses of all size, so protecting your company against any kind of cyber attack or data breach is more important than ever - according to the National Cyber Security Centre, the risk for SMEs is as high as a 1 in 2 chance of suffering a cyber security breach1. But not all organisations fully understand the risks.


Cyber-related crime covers many areas but is any kind of criminal activity carried out using computers or internet access. It can involve theft of data, disruption to company activities or even blackmail. Some of the most common cyber threats are:

  • Phishing emails - cleverly disguised fake emails which ask for security information and personal details
  • Webcam manager - criminals take over your webcam and then blackmail you
  • File hijacker - criminals gain access to files and hold them to ransom
  • Keylogging - criminals record what you type on your keyboard to get your passwords
  • Ad clicker - false adverts which give criminals access to your computer when you click

If anyone in your company is victim to these types of criminal activity it can have a big impact on your business, affecting you financially, ruining your reputation and potentially putting you in breach of the law if personal data is stolen.

From April 2018, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into place to protect people’s personal data and a breach or leak of data means a company can be fined up to £20 million or 4% of its turnover.

So how big is the cyber risk to SMEs?

Unfortunately, many smaller businesses are under the illusion that their business is too small to be the subject of a cyber attack but this is not the case. In 2019 a survey of small businesses revealed that 31% had reported suffering a cyber attack or data security breach2.

What to do if the worst should happen

If your company is subject to a cyber attack it’s important to act quickly. You need to have an action plan in place to limit the damage, repair the damage and to communicate important information to your employees, clients and suppliers. Here are a few things you need to do:

  • Log and monitor any suspicious activity regularly - this can help to inform you as soon as a breach happens, giving you a chance to respond quickly and limit potential damage. It is also useful to have a trail of activity carried out by the hacker.
  • Regularly back up your data - this will make it easier to access copies of your data to help with business continuity.
  • Speak to your insurer - if you do have cyber insurance you need to speak to your insurer as soon as you know an attack has happened.
  • Plan your communications - you need to decide how you are going to communicate the issue to customers, suppliers, employees and how to report it to the Information Commissioners Office if relevant.

Mitigating the risks to your business

The good news is there are a variety of ways you can protect your business and your customers from cyber and data criminal activity, which could help to ensure your business does not fall victim to one of these schemes.

Keep passwords updated

Keep all your business passwords regularly changed and updated and make sure all your staff know to change their passwords as well. This can help reduce the risk of cyber attacks.

Be vigilant with emails

Make sure you train your employees on what to look out for when it comes to suspicious emails or text messages to their work phones and make sure they know what to do if they think they have clicked on something they shouldn’t. Clear policies and guides will help to keep people safer.

Make sure your systems are robust

Ensure you keep your IT systems robust and updated with security features such as firewalls, anti-virus software, anti-malware programmes and any other protective features turned on and regularly tested and upgraded.

Invest in cyber crime and fraud insurance

Cyber crime and fraud insurance arranged by our sister company, Towergate Insurance Brokers, can help to protect your business against the wide range of operational, financial and reputational risks associated with a cyber attack or data security breach. Cover includes:

  • Data recovery support in the event of a breach
  • Extortion cover if a hacker tries to hold you to ransom
  • Business interruption cover to keep you going after a cyber attack
  • Payment of costs associated with regulatory investigations
  • Cover for claims for damages against your business

Get in touch to find out more


  2. Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019 PDF
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80% of businesses making provision for mental wellbeing – Towergate survey reveals

A snapshot survey carried out by Towergate Health & Protection has revealed that 80% of businesses questioned had mental health provision in place and 71% offered mental health training for managers.

While this looks like good news on the surface, the same companies also reported dealing with employee stress and mental health problems as the biggest health and wellbeing challenge facing them.


This could seem to be an indication that employees are not taking up the mental health support being offered.

There are a number of possible reasons for this. One is if mental health support comes via an employee assistance programme, which is provided within an employee benefit, such as an income protection plan, but not actively promoted to employees as a valuable service in its own right.

Our survey also revealed that the second biggest health and wellbeing challenge facing companies was communication and engagement with employees about the benefits which are available. 90% of the businesses relied on HR to do the communication.

This could partly explain the issue, if benefits are being communicated perhaps as a recruitment tool and as part of a new starter process, but not routinely throughout the business, it may be that employees forget what they have access to and then fail to use their benefits fully.

Creating engaging and ongoing meaningful communications with employees about their benefits, what they have and what they can make use of, could improve take-up and help to show employees just how much their bosses have invested in them.

In fact, a report from Money Talks showed that the sickness and staff turnover levels in companies with no benefits, are the same as those in companies who have benefits in place but fail to communicate with and engage staff.

Brett Hill, Distribution Director, said: “Our quick snapshot of companies revealed some interesting trends around employee benefits and while it’s great to see so many firms offering mental health support in the workplace, it’s worrying that stress is still one of the big challenges.

“It’s not enough for companies simply to offer a benefits package as a nice recruitment perk. For benefits to be effective and help to reduce sickness absence levels companies need to work hard to engage staff with everything the employee benefits can offer them and what they include. “

The full results of the survey, which was carried out among attendees of the Employee Benefits Live 2019 event in London, can be read in our new white paper: Health and wellbeing benefits at work – more than just a nice perk.

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Closing the perception gap – the risks facing all SME companies

Handling employee sickness absence can be challenging at the best of times but for a smaller company, having people on leave awaiting hospital appointments or an operation can add significantly to the stress of the rest of the workforce.

According to recent research carried out by Group Risk Development (GRiD), in the past 12 months 44% of businesses have experienced an employee being diagnosed with or dealing with a serious illness such as cancer, heart disease or stroke1.


The same report showed 44% of businesses have experienced an employee being absent long-term in the past year due to ill health, disability or accident1. These figures show the likelihood of facing these issues in the workforce is high.

And with 46% of businesses revealing they have experienced an employee dealing with mental ill health in the past 12 months, the importance of businesses having protective cover in place and providing health and wellbeing programmes for employees couldn’t be higher.

The perception gap

Yet despite this, many SMEs don’t realise the risks, or have a misconception that insurance costs are too high, or that they are too small a company to be covered. And although almost half had dealt with an employee health issue in the past 12 months, the GRiD report showed the vast majority of businesses did not think this was likely to be a risk in the next year.

Despite almost half of companies having experienced an employee dealing with a mental health issue, only 12% thought it was extremely likely that an employee will need to deal with mental ill health in the coming year.

It’s not just risks to employees but also to the owners of a small business which need to be considered as well. If a business owner or key stakeholder passes away it can have a huge impact on a small business.

According to research from Legal & General, 67% of new businesses think they would cease trading immediately if a key person died or became critically ill, yet the same report revealed that over half of businesses don’t have any key person protection cover in place2.

The risks are real

The GRiD report revealed that most employers don’t believe their employees will be affected by a significant health issue in the future. However, the reality is very different and the risks to their people and the business are very real. According to Macmillan Cancer Support, 125,000 people of working age are diagnosed with cancer every year3; while Mind states that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year4; and ONS data reveals that 16% of the people who died in 2017 were of working age5.

Easy ways to reduce the risks

The right combination of employee benefits

The right combination of employee benefits can help a business manage these risks in a number of ways. For example the right private medical insurance scheme can provide fast access to diagnostic tests and medical treatment to treat conditions quickly, maximising the chances of successful treatment and a quicker return to work.

The business can choose a group income protection scheme which provides financial support for employees during periods of extended sickness absence, while also protecting the business against the cost of providing that support directly.

A group life cover benefit would provide financial security for family members in the event of the death of an employee, which in turn increases the engagement and loyalty of employees. The right combination of benefits can make a big difference to managing the risk to your business and to supporting employees in times of need.

Having a wellbeing programme for your team

Employees who have access to wellbeing programmes are less likely to require time off work and healthier people tend to be more productive overall. Offering mental health wellbeing support as part of your overall strategy can also help to tackle stress in the workplace.

Including wellbeing as part of your overall employee benefits package can help boost staff morale as well as reducing sickness absence levels and can be very beneficial in showing people how much they are appreciated and valued.

Ensuring your business could carry on

As a small business owner do you know what would happen to your company if a key person or business partner was to pass away suddenly? What if their shares passed down to a family member who then sold them on?

Business protection insurance cover can help to safeguard the future of your company should the worst happen and provide essential resources to support business continuity during a crisis caused by the death or ill health of a business owner or key person.


The risks to SMEs from a lack of protection for health issues is a significant one and when things do go wrong the impact on the company can be huge. It’s important for companies to realise that no matter how small they are there is always a protection package which will work for them.


  1. Dealing with Serious Employee issues, GRID report, March 2019
  2. Business Protection State of the Nation SME report – Legal and General
  5. (deaths of people aged 16-65 UK/all deaths UK)
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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, Healix Health Services, Medicash, Simplyhealth and Vitality.



13 November 2019: Why supporting menopause in the workplace is urgent and important
Three years ago, you’d have been hard pushed to find an organisation with a menopause policy. Since then, there’s been something of a seismic shift, with the topic of menopause gaining traction in headlines and company agendas alike. More and more employers are raising awareness of menopause as part of their company culture, and understanding the need to put the right menopause support in place.

4 November 2019: A preventative approach to boosting wellbeing
Recent years have been challenging for UK businesses. Amid political volatility, technological upheaval and economic uncertainty, it's not enough merely to be successful: the capacity to sustain success through known and unknown challenges and risks is just as important.

25 October 2019: 5 ways to help employees with Seasonal Affective Disorder
You may have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (often known as SAD), but are you sure you know what it is? As an employer, you need to be aware of this as it could affect some of your employees.


17 September 2019: The economics of exercise
A new study by research group PJM Economics commissioned by AXA PPP healthcare has found higher levels of physical activity among employees could save UK businesses up to £6.6 billion through improved employee productivity each year.


10 December 2019: Workplace wellbeing census
Bupa has partnered with YouGov to publish the Workplace Wellbeing Census – a must-read for business leaders, people managers and anyone whose work covers employee wellbeing. The census explores how employees really feel about their wellbeing, how their working life affects it, and how well-equipped businesses are to deal with wellbeing issues. It compares the different experiences of younger and older employees, businesses big and small across 12 industry sectors.

1 November 2019: Staff money worries at Christmas
For many people, Christmas is a time of festive celebrations, but it can also burn a big financial hole in our pockets. One in three people are putting Christmas presents on credit this year, and one in 10 are feeling worried and stressed about money. This can create significant money worries that can affect our mental and physical wellbeing, both in and out of work.

10 October 2019: Winter health in the workplace
Colds, flus and the winter blues – these illnesses can all affect your workforce. But there a few things you might be able to do to help your team stay well during the colder season.


6 November 2019: Ground-breaking study shows fitter bodies could lead to fitter economies
RAND Europe and Vitality publish a ground-breaking, global study on the economic impact of physical inactivity, illustrating the significant influence of regular exercise on economic growth, workforce productivity and life expectancy. 

Best of the rest

12 November 2019: Healix - November World Health Report 
On World Polio Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that Wild Poliovirus Type 3 (WPV3) had been eradicated globally. The eradication of WPV3 follows the global eradication of Wild Poliovirus Type 2 (WPV2) in 2015.

21 October 2019: Simplyhealth - 10 ways to increase your daily steps
For years 10,000 steps has been touted as the daily goal we should all be hitting. However 10,000 steps isn't a one size fits all goal, and for some of us it just isn't feasible. If you average 3,000 - 4,000 steps for example, doubling your daily steps is likely going to be quite a challenge both physically and time wise. 

27 September 2019: Medicash enhances its corporate health plans as demand for cash plans continues to grow
Leading cash plan provider Medicash is revitalising its corporate health plans to make them even more competitive in the market and to meet the growing needs of their corporate customers.

Read more