Health and wellness as a key differentiator for SMEs

Historically, medical and wellness benefits have been reserved for public companies and large corporates. This is not because small and mid-sized businesses do not want to support their employees or entice talent with better packages. Instead, in our experience, it’s for two common reasons that most SMEs share:

  1. Growing SMEs do not have the liquid cashflow to extend salaries to offer full medical scheme benefits to their employees.
  2. In order to grow into a bigger business that can offer extensive benefits, SMEs are hyper-focused on building positive cash flows and liquidity.

Here’s the problem. The businesses that can offer comprehensive benefits can easily continue to operate if an employee is off sick. An SME on the other hand might only have one or two drivers on staff, or one receptionist, or one sales executive. If an employee is off sick, there can be serious repercussions to productivity and meeting client expectations.

Similarly, the links between a healthy workforce and business performance have been clearly established, and yet many SMEs do not offer benefits, exposing their businesses to risk and missing a key differentiator.

Sasfin Healthcare Consulting first recognised this problem over 20 years ago thanks to our close relationships with entrepreneurs and SMEs and it soon became apparent that while business owners recognised the risk and wanted to be able to support their employees, (and to become an employer of choice), this would either have required paying lower salaries or negatively impacting cash flow.

Here’s the good news. As with all things SME-related, one size does not fit all. In fact, most business owners are not medical aid and healthcare professionals (nor should they be) and medical scheme administration is not a core function of HR personnel, particularly in a small and growing business where everyone wears multiple hats.

It’s for this reason that so many SMEs don’t realise the options available to them. Yes, fully comprehensive benefits for every employee would in many cases be prohibitively expensive for SMEs – however there are far more solutions available than many SMEs assume, and unique solutions can be tailored to specific business needs.

Solutions for today that prepare for tomorrow

Healthcare benefits for employees should never be a grudge purchase. In fact, with the correct solutions in place, such as medical scheme alternatives, like Primary Health Insurance (PHI) products, employees can have access to affordable private healthcare benefits .

Advisors can provide the necessary advice on the differences between insurance products and medical aid, including how gap cover works, which types of preventative medications and care are covered, from hypertension and diabetes to treating the flu, and how a healthy workforce supports a better business – and ultimately business growth.

Understanding the foundation of wellness

As a business, we understand that wellness initiatives should always be based on the principle that “prevention is better than cure.” Our ultimate goal in providing wellness consulting services and helping our clients to identify and implement the right packages based on our extensive relationships with South African medical aid and insurance products, as well as our understanding of what growing businesses need now (and in the future), helps  us to provide advice on solutions that have a positive impact on the bottom line of the organisation.

Our team’s expertise lets us assist SME’s with encouraging employees to adopt useful lifestyle changes, based on the health risk profile of the workforce.Through understanding the company’s current wellness initiatives and objectives, we can also assist in providing advice in terms of potential duplication, and gaps in service and effectiveness of the providers currently in use or  being reviewed.

Our consulting process consists of three steps:

  • Planning: recommending a reputable service provider, taking into account the circumstances and needs of your organisation.
  • Implementation: taking action to project manage the process, based on the agreed preparation steps.
  • Evaluation: the programme results are evaluated and recommendations are made on possible intervention strategies.

The Sasfin difference

Our team is passionate about this space. Navigating the medical scheme and insurance world is complex and often difficult to understand. Our personalised approach to healthcare consulting ensures we clarify uncertainties or misgivings, and because we work so closely with SMEs on a daily basis, we understand  your healthcare  solutions will need to evolve as you transition  from a small or mid-sized business today, into corporate growth (and all your changing needs that brings) in the future – we look forward to partnering with you along this journey.

Contact us on to find out more. 

About the Author

Sizwe Nkosi
Business Development Manager, SFAS

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