When I first entered the world of employee benefits more than 20 years ago, many organisations’ approach to health and wellbeing was markedly different. Back then, the focus was on more traditional healthcare benefits, such as private medical insurance (PMI) and health cash plans. Wellbeing benefits were often viewed as a much ‘softer’ option, harder to quantify in terms of a tangible return on investment on an organisation’s balance sheet.
How times have changed. Wellbeing benefits are now firmly embedded in many organisations’ employee value propositions and cultures. In addition, wellbeing is now more all-encompassing than ever, with many recognising the link between physical, mental, emotional and financial wellbeing.
This is borne out in the results of research published last week by consultancy Aon, which found that more than 80% of the organisations surveyed globally included elements of their diversity, equity and inclusion, environmental, social and governance (ESG), health and safety, and total reward programmes within their wellbeing strategy. In the UK, employee wellbeing is now one of employers’ top three priorities, representing a shift even since 2020.
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Aon’s 2022-2023 Global wellbeing survey also found that, globally, 87% of organisations had a wellbeing initiative, while 83% had a wellbeing strategy; this was a rise of more than 25 percentage points since the survey was last conducted in 2020. This is perhaps unsurprising, given the focus many employers have placed on wellbeing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Overall, more than 40% of respondents globally said they have a wellbeing strategy that is fully integrated into their overall business strategy.
However, while three-quarters of UK respondents said that wellbeing has increased in importance, just 29% said it is fully integrated into their overall business and talent strategy.
At Employee Benefits, we regularly report on the steps employers take to support their employees. Earlier this week, for example, Superdrug and Savers updated their wellbeing packages to further support employees’ financial health by providing access to Wagestream’s app, as well committing to introducing access to the Digicare app in order to support employees’ physical and mental health.
Last week, meanwhile, retailer Central Co-op also enhanced its health and wellbeing package with the introduction of a raft of new initiatives, including one-to-one sessions with a nutritionist, a mental health consultation, access to a wellbeing library containing information on a wide range of topics, and access to the Digicare app.
Something we hear time and time again is how many employees now prioritise working for an employer that they consider to take care of them. Supporting all facets of wellbeing is a key component of this, particularly in the challenging times we are now living through.