The conversation on employee wellbeing has shifted from a ‘nice-to-have’ model to become an essential part of any employee offering.
The reasons for this are two-fold; in the short term, the COVID-19 pandemic has made us more aware than ever of the importance of health and wellbeing in the workplace. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization asserted back in 2016 that the development of health-promoting workplaces would be a prerequisite for sustainable social and economic development in the future.
Second, organisations are increasingly recognising that the benefits of wellbeing provisions may extend beyond simple return on investment. Costs linked to absenteeism, presenteeism and employee turnover are areas of legitimate business concern, but it’s also worth considering the less tangible benefits. By demonstrating that you care about workers’ health, especially outside work hours, you become more attractive as an employer to those looking for new opportunities and can increase engagement among existing employees.
The employee offering
So, if you haven’t already, now is the time to look holistically at your employee deal. Consider how you are currently supporting your employees’ mental, physical, financial and social wellbeing, and what you can implement or enhance to optimise your provision.
Employee benefits are one of the most important ways to deliver wellbeing programmes. Start with a basic audit that involves asking staff, either throughout the organisation or in a particular department, to answer questions anonymously about their current benefits package. Combine this with data on take-up rate to help assess whether your benefits are delivering the required value.
For each existing benefit, have some key questions in mind:
- Who’s using it at the moment?
- How much value do they get from it?
- Are there groups of employees who are not engaged with the benefit?
- If so, could you adjust how you administer or communicate the benefit in order to reach a wider audience?
- Is there an alternative benefit you could provide instead that would be more useful?
It’s also worth considering what data you have available on the difference wellbeing initiatives make to your employees’ health overall. HR usually only sees the end result in terms of hard data – absence figures and the like. However, consider reaching out to your workforce for anecdotal evidence of how a particular benefit may have helped improve their wellbeing. These can be very helpful when building the case for wellbeing investment to achieve less easily measured results, such as improved employee engagement and loyalty, with consequent gains for performance and productivity.
The right thing to do
The conversation around employee wellbeing has shifted, with many organisations now considering it part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. Far from meddling in employees’ affairs, empowering your people to improve their own health is increasingly seen as the right thing to do.
Furthermore, by setting a good example within your industry you are driving a cultural shift towards valuing the employee as a whole person, with consequent advantages for their health and wellbeing in the long-term.