Employers want to help employees live healthier lives

Rising employee health costs are one of the biggest risks employers face. Absenteeism due to illness and a stagnant health care system in particular are driving financial risks, according to research from Mercer.

In just a few years, employee health has become one of the most important employee topics in the boardroom, the study shows. Never before has this topic been so high on the list of top risks for Dutch employers: in the Netherlands it ranks fourth, and even first worldwide.

Mercer’s research was conducted among more than 4,500 employer HR and risk managers.

Source: Mercer Marsh Benefits, People Risk 2024

Chronic diseases and psychological problems

Dutch employers mainly fear the financial consequences of chronic diseases and mental problems for employees. Chronic diseases are conditions that can result from an unhealthy lifestyle. Think cardiovascular disease and respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and type 2 diabetes.

The impact of mental problems is mainly reflected in the increasing number of reports of burnout.

Read more: 4 in 10 employers experience high levels of sickness absence.

Nearly half of employers want to actively help employees improve their health. This can range from providing lifestyle coaches to address obesity to improving access to mental health support for people struggling with the stress of daily tasks.


Absenteeism from work caused by mental overload is not only unpleasant for the employees concerned, but also a headache for the employer. The special circumstances of employees always play a role in this.

Peter Appelskamp, ​​Partner and Business Leader at Mercer Marsh Benefits: “Fatigue is a significant cause of increased absenteeism. Regular healthcare does not have an adequate answer to this question, at least not within a reasonable period of time. This is costing employers unnecessary money.”

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“This creates demand for private initiatives. Regular health insurance doesn’t cover these costs. Employers can play a role in purchasing alternative pathways that help employees. After all, they want their employees to be able to return to work healthy and fit as quickly as possible.

read more: Five ways to contribute to the health of your employees.

Access to care is deteriorating

Employers also want to manage employee health more actively because they see access to healthcare in our country deteriorating. Consider waiting lists for some hospital procedures or psychological help, which means that essential care for employees takes longer to arrive.

More than half of Mercer’s HR managers said they doubted the Dutch healthcare system’s ability to withstand a new major crisis, such as Covid-19.

Create care pathways

According to Appelskamp, ​​many employers can provide more support than they currently offer. “Employers can use resources and options to provide employees with appropriate help. An employer can work with the health insurer on care pathways, a digital GP, medicines delivered at home or an on-site dentist.

Finally, the Mercer report emphasizes that the responsibility ultimately lies with the employee himself. “Ultimately, a healthy life starts with you,” Appelskamp concludes.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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