Personalised Employee Benefits Could Help Tackle Employee Mental Health Decline

With anxiety and unhappiness levels rising across the UK, the role of employee benefits - in particular, personalised employee benefits - has never been more prominent.

Anxiety & Unhappiness Rising

There was a sharp rise in levels of anxiety and unhappiness across the UK between April 2020 and March 2021, new research has found. According to the Office for National Statistics, UK wellbeing and happiness levels “deteriorated across all indicators” in the year ending March 2021. 

The ONS said the downward trend follows in the footsteps of the previous year but is, sadly, even sharper. This finding perhaps isn’t surprising given that the reporting period for this ONS release took place entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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[Related reading: Workplace Wellbeing: What Employers Think vs. What Employees Want]

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The ONS said its most recent annual report highlights declines in personal wellbeing in the UK, the steepest it had ever monitored. Indeed, personal wellbeing for life satisfaction and happiness declined by 0.27 points and 0.17 points respectively, while anxiety increased by 0.26 points. The feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile also showed a 0.15 point decline.

Commenting on the findings, Noelle Murphy, senior HR practice editor at XpertHR, said: "It is bleak, but perhaps unsurprising that people’s wellbeing has taken a hit over the last year.” 

She cited financial strains, having to deal with working from home, overnight and stringent coronavirus restrictions as all contributing to the rise in anxiety and unhappiness.

The Role Of Personalised Benefits

Meanwhile, a new report by HR specialist Zellis shows that a significant proportion of UK employers have introduced new workplace benefits since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in a bid to maintain staff morale and help employees adapt to new hybrid working structures.

The report, which surveyed 400 senior HR professionals from companies of all sizes, found that almost half (47%) of HR professionals believe that the increasing prevalence of hybrid working structures has made offering personalised employee benefits more important.

Among the most popular additional perks were flexible working hours, introduced by 17% of organisations during the pandemic, childcare vouchers (13%), cycle-to-work schemes (12%) and technology purchases (10%).

Supporting employees’ mental health when working remotely was also cited as a key factor by a third of respondents, who say they have launched initiatives to better support health and mental wellbeing among staff.

Encouragingly, 37% of employers said they are changing their employee benefits offerings to create more personalised options for staff. These employers said employee needs are becoming more bespoke as the working from home trend looks to continue into the future.

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[Related reading: Why Private Healthcare Could Be The New Norm For Businesses Post-Pandemic]

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With the needs and wants of staff differing from individual to individual, it makes sense for organisations to take a personalised approach to employee benefits. By carefully considering what will be beneficial to employees and offering the right benefits, organisations can not only promote themselves as an employer that cares but also reap loyalty and productivity rewards too.

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Author: Claire Ginnelly - Executive Director