Putting Employee Wellbeing First: Employee health, emerges as top concern

Employees are the lifeblood of any business – big or small. Whether there’s five or 500 people on the team, each person plays a pivotal role in helping a business operate smoothly, achieve growth, thrive and succeed.

As part of the 2023 SME Insurance Index research, 1,750 business owners and decision-makers across the country shared what matters most to them. The research highlights opportunities for brokers to help their clients with areas of real concern.

It should come as no surprise that economic concerns came out on top – with 61% of businesses flagging this as their biggest concern (refer to Figure 1.1). Coming in at a close second however were issues and concerns around employees, which was flagged by 58% of businesses.

In fact, employee concerns become more of a focus for businesses with five or more employees, overtaking economic concerns as the number one cause for concern (Figure 1.2) peaking with companies that employ between 200 and 500 people. For 88% of these business owners, it’s issues related to their people that are the number one concern.

Putting employee concerns in focus

Hear from real business owners as we dive deep into the latest trends and insights affecting small and medium-sized businesses. In this video we shine a spotlight on employee concerns and hearing directly from real business owners about how they're addressing these issues. 

When you explore the research findings, it becomes clear that businesses are concerned about a range of issues directly relating to their employees. These include:

  • The mental health of those working in and around the business (23%).
  • Maintaining Covid-safe practices (23%).
  • Risks related to employee health and safety (22%).
  • The difficulty of attracting and retaining good staff (15%).
  • Offering and facilitating remote working (11%).

Employers are concerned about a range of insurable and uninsurable issues when it comes to employee matters. In New South Wales mental health concerns stand out, whereas COVID-safe practices are prevalent in Victoria. Attracting employees is a bigger concern in South Australia, while remote working is a concern for all except South Australia.

When business owners and operators rate the importance of their insurance cover across a range of potential risks, health and safety concerns are a clear area of focus – but there are other issues at play.

The following graphic (Figure 1.3) shows some key employee issues that were flagged as important by businesses when it comes to insurance cover. While accidents and safety are the most important employee risks to cover, a range of employee risks are relevant to many.

Not only are these issues seen as important – they’re also seen by many businesses as complex topics when it comes to insurance. For example:

  • 51% of those surveyed see their responsibilities as an employer as complex when it comes to making sure they have the right level of insurance.
  • 47% see changes to their employee safety guidelines as a complex area.

The good news, however, is these are key opportunities for brokers to demonstrate expertise and support for clients. Consider the following graphic (Figure 1.4), which highlights the key insurance-related areas that are seen as particularly complex.

Employee responsibilities and regulations are widely considered to be complex, suggesting a clear opportunity for brokers to help clients in this area. In particular, businesses with 200-499 employees have major employee responsibilities but may not have large human resources, safety or risk teams to help – so a brokers’ expertise is particularly valuable.

These areas of complexity are ones where brokers could remove complexity for clients, such as discussing employee issues, sharing specific insights related to business types or industries, and providing information to make sure business owners and operators are aware of their responsibilities.

There is also an opportunity to educate clients, identify the risks to their business and provide advice on how to reduce and mitigate these risks to help prevent workplace accidents or incidents.

Why managing psychosocial risks matters

More than 20% of the business owners and decision makers surveyed believe that the mental health of their employees – as well as their own – is a key concern.

23% of business owners and decision makers are very concerned about the mental health of employees. This increases to 32% when looking at large businesses and 29% when looking at CBD-based businesses.

Download the fact sheet that provides more detail about managing mental health in the workplace.

Health and safety is important across a range of industries

44% of businesses believe that workplace accidents and employee safety are key insurance concerns.

What may surprise you, however, is that this type of thinking isn’t limited to those operating businesses in industries generally seen as risky, for example construction or manufacturing. Even in industries such as education and administration – which involve a lot of desk work – health and safety remains a key area of concern.

For example, mental health claims along with claims related to stress, bullying and harassment are prolific in white collar industries. Musculoskeletal claims – such as those for RSI, back injuries or work-related slips, trips and falls – are also still a factor.

The opportunity that presents itself to brokers is to lead important discussions with clients around protecting employees from risk, no matter the industry a business operates in.

This could take the form of helping a business identify key risks specific to their industry or ways of working, and then collaborating to help put measures in place to reduce those risks, which could benefit the premium of relevant insurance protection.

Helping clients navigate the world of remote work

New ways of working don’t just require a rethink of established ways of doing business, they open business owners and operators up to confusion about risks to their employees and insurance, especially when it comes to health and safety.

31% of those we surveyed want to ensure that their employees who work remotely or from home are covered.

On top of that, 68% of business owners and operators who are concerned about cover for their remote workers believe that knowing what they will or won’t be covered – and the risks at for is a grey area.

This provides a huge area of opportunity for brokers to offer up clarity, advice and expertise – working with clients explaining to clients exactly what their remote workers can be covered for, as well as the cost implications now and into the future.

The prevalence of remote working raises new risks and questions for employers. How can brokers help businesses effectively manage risks and protect their workers who are working remotely?

Download a fact sheet to provide your clients with helpful information about managing occupational risks related to employees who work from home.

So, what’s next? 

When it comes to helping clients of all shapes and sizes address employee concerns, there’s a diverse range of opportunities for brokers to be relied on as trusted experts.

To see the full findings for 2023 Vero SME Insurance Index and what they mean for brokers, click here to download the report or here to watch the CPD-accredited Vero SME Insurance Index Webinar on demand.

AAI  Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Vero Insurance (Vero) has prepared the Vero SME Insurance Index Report (Report) & Webinar. The information in the Report & Webinar is general information only and is not intended to be relied upon – please make your own enquiries.  Subject to any rights you may have under any law, Vero and its related bodies corporate do not assume or accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, relating to the Webinar & Report. Vero and its related bodies corporate do not guarantee the accuracy, reliability, completeness or currency of the information provided. The Webinar & Report are not a recommendation or statement of opinion about whether a reader or viewer should acquire insurance from Vero (or its related bodies corporate) or services from any insurance intermediary or otherwise alter their business arrangements. The Webinar & Report are based on commissioned research by Vero and should not be used as the basis for any decision in relation to the acquisition or disposal of insurance products or the use of broker services. Readers should confirm information and interpretation of information by seeking independent advice.

Share this: 


  1. Veracity
  2. News and Insights
  3. SME Insurance Index
  4. Risk Management Insights

SME Insurance Index Library