There is a reality that must be talked about: in the world of work the access to benefits it is not fair. Workers in managerial positions tend to have greater coverage of benefits above those of the law related to health issues compared to the labor force with lower incomes.
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 be provided health coverage by their employer, even though they were hit the hardest by the pandemic.
in a list of 16 top features to those of law, which includes life insurance, medical coverage, health clinics in the workplace, 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. The most marked is that of medical coverage addition to social security.
“Only one in three low-income workers (33%) has access to medical coverage through their employer, compared to nearly one in two (49%) high-wage workers.
In another example of the gap, despite the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic increased the effects on the mental health of workers, while 23% of workers with higher salaries receive mental health advice from their employer , among the personnel with lower earnings, the proportion is reduced to 17 percent.
Ariel Almazán, leader of Health Consulting at Mercer Marsh Benefits, believes that this trend is linked to the fact that health benefits they have historically been considered a key talent retention strategy.
“This is part of an organizational structure that was taking place a few years ago, where benefits were precisely considered as a strategy of attraction or talent retention. So, suddenly certain initiatives or benefits aimed at prevention were aimed at managerial populations, directors or senior executives, ”explains the specialist.
For Alejandra Toscano, general director of DNE Consulting, there are several factors that have generated this gap. The first of them is because there is a lack of knowledge about the positive impact that these initiatives can generate. The second cause 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 don’t see these benefits as a way for people to stay,” explains the specialist.
Among other causes, AlejandrA Toscano also attributes this inequality to the fact that at the operational level salary is still valued more than benefits superior to those of the law.
The most vulnerable staff
According to the Mexican Social Security Institute (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 personnel, who have less access to health benefits, is also the one that has the greatest difficulty in seeking private medical attention and that implies a greater lack of protection.
“Many of the employees who need help the most are the least likely to receive it, which means employers might consider ‘reversing the pyramid’ and expanding the access to benefits, as well as introducing new types of aid for vulnerable populations”, highlights the study.
Ariel Almazán stresses that the gap in access to health benefits it negatively impacts the workforce that is more prone to vulnerability.
“Today we know that these workers with higher incomes have the possibility of accessing a better medical coverage, income protection or mental health counseling. What is required to work in the short term and immediately is to be clear about the needs of the most disadvantaged groups”, points out the specialist.
Paradoxically, explains Alejandra Toscano, the working population that does not receive this support from their employer is the one that has been most exposed to the Covid-19 infections.
“Obviously they occupy positions that cannot be developed from home. While better paid positions may go to home office, in operational positions there is no alternative. That 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 equitably grant benefits, specialists agree, is to understand that they are not an expense, but rather an investment that will reduce turnover at all levels and will impact the staff motivation, an important element to improve productivity. According to the study, of the workers who received support from their employer, 57% are less likely to leave the company 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 effects that the fact of having less protection for this labor force can generate for the company.
“There is no perception of the importance of human factor At this level, it is a reality. I would 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, sick or leaves, of course, has an impact on productivity”, says the general director of DNE Consulting.
Ariel Almazán suggests that one of the ways to close the gap is a more intelligent investment in health benefits, incorporating flexibility, equity, inclusion and digitization in compensation packages.
“We must remove the idea that this becomes an expense. It is a smart investment and should not be isolated from the corporate, productivity and sustainability strategies of the organization”, states the leader of Health Consulting at Mercer Marsh Benefits.