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Harnessing the power of shared-value for employees

Discovery combines more than 20 years of shared-value innovation to deliver a comprehensive solution to inspire both, physical and financial health, among employees.

The unique shared-value model has spread rapidly and evolved over two decades since it was first introduced as a disruptive proposition in the life insurance industry.

The model emerged in the wake of a ground-breaking actuarial accomplishment that unlocked the economic potential created when people are inspired to be healthier.

Healthy people not only enjoy happier and more productive lives but also benefit from a substantially reduced risk of suffering from early or preventable life-changing events, such as dread disease, permanent disability or untimely death.

From the perspective of a life insurer, this reduced risk among its clients results in an ‘actuarial surplus’ due to lower-than-expected policy claims. When leveraged carefully, this surplus can be transformed into powerful incentives using rewards and benefits to inspire healthier behaviour.

As these behaviours unlock more value, this creates a positive feedback loop that allows for a continuous process of innovation. By incorporating advances in behavioural economics, technology and data-driven insights, Discovery is able to adapt to the evolving needs of people and deliver more refined incentives.

As this virtuous circle repeats, clients, businesses and, in a most profound way, society benefits. This as there is an unquestionably grand social imperative to reduce the incidences of premature death and preventable diseases.

The principle of shared-value has grown to become a central concept among some of the most forward-thinking businesses and leading business theorists, internationally. This theory seeks to find ways for enterprises to co-exist in harmonious and mutually constructive relationships with the societies in which they are built to serve.

The principle involves ‘creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges,’ as trailblazing academics Michael Porter and Mark Kramer wrote in their seminal 2011 paper, Creating Shared Value – how to reinvent capitalism and unleash a wave of innovation.

“Businesses must reconnect company success with social progress. Shared-value is a new way to achieve economic success. It is not at the margin, what companies do, but at the centre.”

Integrating shared-value for employees

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about shared-value is its potential to address a wide range of societal challenges that cut across multiple industry sectors.

In the space of life insurance, the behaviours that Discovery tries to influence are related to physical wellbeing and has translated into its clients enjoying longer, healthier lives than the wider insured population.

In short-term insurance, Discovery uses incentives to help people become better drivers, with the result that clients experience less harsh road incidents.

In banking, Discovery helps to inspire the right kinds of personal finance behaviours that prevent social problems such as over-indebtedness. In investing, Discovery helps investors to adopt the behaviours that keep them on track to achieve their long-term financial goals.

In doing so, Discovery not only enables employers to benefit from a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce while ensuring that their staff members are appropriately insured for the risks that life presents, but also helps tackle another major social challenge.

The dire reality is that the vast majority of South Africans do not retire with enough savings to live out the rest of their lives comfortably with. This reality, referred to as the ‘retirement savings gap’ is both well documented and alarming and, as medical technology advances and people live longer, the problem will continue to grow.

When people do not save enough for retirement, not only does this place them in a situation of often acute distress, but their families and ultimately the wider society also take a toll. As parents become dependent on their children for financial security, these overburdened people, known as the ‘sandwich generation,’ carry double the financial strain of providing for both their parents and their own children.

To address this problem, Discovery has leveraged the power of shared value to develop an integrated system of behavioural incentives that encourage employees to adopt the right kinds of long-term savings behaviours. Powerful boosts and rewards have proven to help employees invest much more into their retirement funds, while avoiding the temptation to withdraw from those savings too early or too fast.

Discovery’s retirement benefits are often bought together with its group risk benefits that encourage healthier living through shared value including life cover, local and international cover for the education of employees’ children, severe illness cover, lump-sum and monthly disability protection, and funeral cover.

This can all be supported by Discovery’s Healthy Company initiative, which is a digitally enabled, comprehensive employee assistance programme and wellness solution. It identifies and proactively supports at-risk employees in managing the four key dimensions of their wellbeing through screening and risk classification, proactive tailored interventions, and data-driven insights.

Discovery is incredibly proud of the work its teams have done to develop this combined shared-value suite of solutions to help employees achieve good physical, financial and emotional health.

For more information, view Discovery’s digital magazine: