ICL Services
2 August 2016


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“Do you appreciate me?”, or VHI (Voluntary Health Insurance) as an indicator of the company’s treatment of its employee

Corporate VHI:between two fires

In 2015, the Russian VHI market is shrinking (corporate contracts are 25 % down compared with 2014, and premiums grow slower than the inflation rate). In this Forinsurer, representatives of large insurance companies believe that SME are dropping corporate VHI, while large companies try to keep it in their social package.

Probably, because VHI was seen as a must have for a decent compensation package as early as in 2005. Now it’s valued even more. For example, according to the previous year’s satisfaction survey at ICL Services, 60 % employees find health care an “important” or “very important” feature of a company. Other companies’ cases demonstrate: employees treat VHI as an indicator that their company appreciates them.

Unfortunately, the company’s commitments and employees’ preferences are in conflict with the global economic situation, because VHI expenses stagnate when economy does not grow. For example, total VHI premiums are forecast by Forinsurer (in TOP-3 insurance Internet media in CIS) to grow 5 % in 2016, i.e. even less than the inflation rate.

ICL Services has found ways to maintain and develop its corporate VHI program in such conditions. Its experience may be applied by other Russian large companies.

VHI: separating the wheat from the chaff

The VHI program changes every year, and every change is based on the evaluation of 20+ factors. Key factors include:

  • employee feedback and preferences;
  • employees’ and insurer’s assessment of VHI-participating clinics;
  • clinic attendance and demand for medical services among employees;
  • the amount of insurance payments.
More than 900 employees of the Company have VHI policies, which is a meaningful, representative sample.

See an example of how the VHI program has changed to suit the needs of employees and the Company below.

Dental care for juniors

A very expensive element of VHI, dental care services, had been only part of insurance programs for the Company’s middle, senior specialists and management up until 2015. But they are in great demand and strongly affect performance (you can hardly provide IT services without getting distracted by a toothache). So, in 2016, dental care was included in VHI for junior staff and has hit Top-3 most popular medical services. To find funds for this, the list of clinics participating in the VHI program was reduced by removing the least popular ones.

Therefore, the VHI program is being fine-tuned to the ICL Services team year in, year out. New options appear to replace the unpopular ones; the program’s effectiveness and employee satisfaction have been growing without a spike in total premiums.

There are enough resources for global best practices in medical insurance, too. For example, expansion of the VHI program to closest family members is believed to be among the 2016 trendsIt is logical because employees find it important to provide for the safety of their close ones in the context of an unstable economy.

ICL Services has given its employees this opportunity since 2015. In Russia, the VHI market is virtually closed for individuals (too high risks for insurers — or too high insurance payments). But close family members of ICL Services employees can procure VHI at a rather affordable “corporate” price. As many as about 50 people have taken this opportunity in 2016.

“A sound mind is in a sound body”:athletics and activity to support VHI

Other, more affordable opportunities can be used to improve employee health, for example, by maintaining the team’s existing aspirations for a healthy lifestyle. This requires being considerate to employees rather than financial resources. Below is a number of activities carried out by ICL Services in the first six months of 2016.

  • An illustrative example is Kazan Marathon-2016 (a large-scale athletic event, during which every volunteer ran a distance of 3 to 42 km).An activist employee proposed organized participation to the Company.HR arranged for gathering volunteers, and the Company paid their registration fees. As a result, 55 employees took up running training and participated in the marathon.
  • 63 employees participate in Global Corporate Challenge-2016, an international corporate program to promote a healthy lifestyle. ICL Services pays up to 70 % of the registration fee,while GCC encourages participants to walk more, swim, and ride the bicycle. According to GCC, 40 % participants show improved performance, 41 % spend less time on sick leave.
  • In the spring, it was arranged for volunteers to plant 30 blue spruces in the countryside with many employees coming with their families. With popularity of environmental activity in full swing, information was posted on corporate Intranet about tree-planting events in the city. So, a number of staff members spent a series of active and useful weekends outdoors.
  • Game-oriented sports offer a wonderful opportunity for “corporate investment” in health. People themselves are interested in regular training and competitions, and usually only lack an affordable site and a steady team. Therefore:
    1. the Company has several football teams and holds a company tournament;
    2. one team has been put together in a Voronezh-based separate business unit that lacks people for 4 teams required for the company championship. It is trained, and its contributions for participation in city tournaments are paid;
    3. the Company leases a football pitch, a basketball and volleyball court for all volunteering employees to play with each other regularly and free of charge.
  • Part of gym memberships is compensated for employees.
  • HR procures partner programs with fitness centers and swimming pools with employees getting discounts and centers — their clients. In 2016, the Company won over 2 modern fitness centers and an international-class swimming pool which had hosted Universiade-2013 competitions as its partners.
  • There are very affordable and effective solutions within the Company itself. These include, for example, athletic grounds in offices or the protection of health care and wellbeing of non-smoking employees coupled with promotion of giving up bad habits.

Naturally, this effort cannot replace VHI. But it also improves human wellbeing and productivity and can become a good alternative to annual increases of health insurance budgets.


According to internal estimates, VHI introduction and support of sports significantly reduce losses of work time due to employee illness.

As concerns employees themselves, according to internal research conducted by Hay Group, 86 % of them would recommend working at ICL Services to their friends and people they know — not least of all due to the compensation package and the Company’s social responsibility.


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