Research by specialist recruitment firm Robert Half has found more than half of the UK workforce (51 per cent) want private healthcare insurance at work as concerns around access to healthcare grows, with dental insurance topping the list of asks as access to NHS dentists causes nationwide concerns.

Robert Half’s 2024 Salary Guide – which analyses and reports on market salaries, hiring trends, and skills requirements across the UK – highlighted clear concerns from employees as the NHS struggles due to a lack of staff and stubbornly high waiting times. These worries have translated into growing demands for better healthcare benefits, with private dental insurance most sought-after (cited by 62 per cent of workers). This comes at a time when reports suggest a decline in access to NHS dentists has led to a rise in mouth cancer-related deaths.

According to Robert Half’s data, a further 57 per cent of staff are interested in Health and Outpatient Insurance, while more than a third (35 per cent) would like mental health resources or Employee Assistance Programmes as workers struggle with burnout and other mental health issues.

Demand for private healthcare high in UK

The data also shows the plight of the UK compared to its European counterparts. While almost two-thirds of UK residents want dental insurance, just 42 per cent of those in Germany indicated a desire for this benefit.

Hospitalisation insurance is also particularly high in demand in the UK, with 59 per cent of workers wanting this in 2024. Across other European destinations, this desire falls, with just 48 per cent of those in France and 46 per cent in Germany indicating that they would like access to this benefit.

Steve Sully, Regional Director at Robert Half, commented: “The NHS issues and subsequent concerns around access to healthcare treatment is clearly playing on the minds of the UK workforce. This latest data shows a growing trend in people turning to their employers to provide private dental and healthcare benefits. Firms must be mindful of the perks and benefits that resonate with existing and future workers if they are to attract and retain the staff they need.

“We’ve seen a trend of pay increase demands over the last year due to a combination of the rising costs of living and worker shortages, but this isn’t a sustainable means of sourcing staff,” Sully notes. “Employers are needing to be more creative about benefits packages to compete for top talent and, as the workforce is clearly showing, private healthcare, alongside mental health support, are a priority.”

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