Why Employers Need To Focus On Wellbeing Initiatives In 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has totally transformed the way we live and work. As a result, our physical and mental health has been under significant pressure for more than a year. As such, isn’t it time wellbeing initiatives were placed higher up on employers’ agendas?

Having just passed the one-year mark since the beginning of the first lockdown, it seems an appropriate time for organisations to reassess their cultures and working practises to see if they are working in their employees’ best wellbeing interests. This is especially true now that we are more aware of how closely linked employee health, home life and workplace welbeing are.

Fortunately, more employers are realising that the duty of care they have towards protecting their employees’ wellbeing now extends to outside of the workplace. Indeed, according to insurer Aetna International’s annual global survey, three in five (63%) UK HR Directors believe employers now have more responsibility for their employees’ mental and physical health beyond the workplace.

A disconnect exists between how good employers think they’re doing vs. how their employees feel

However, the survey results also show that employers continue to believe that the health benefits they offer employees are providing more than enough support. But the unfortunate reality is they often aren’t. 

Aetna International’s recent annual global survey also found that the majority of employees said the coronavirus pandemic has heightened the importance of mental health (84%), physical health (89%) and access to quality care (87%). However, only 31% said they are happy with the health benefits and resources their employer provides.

The bottom line is there’s still a long way to go to close the gap between what employers think is sufficient when it comes to workplace wellbeing initiatives and what employees think.

Nevertheless, many employers are making advances, particularly when it comes to the provision of mental health benefits and support. Aetna International found that over half (54%) of HR Directors claim their company has improved the provision of mental health support and benefits that support employee wellbeing. This is important when you consider that the survey also revealed nearly two-thirds (63%) of global employees say working for an employer that provides mental health support is now more important to them than it was a year ago.

But there is still room for improvement. This is highlighted by the fact that around a fifth (22%) of UK employees working remotely actually think the support their company gives them to combat stress is ‘poor’. It is worth noting, however, that this figure has dropped significantly since before the pandemic, when 41% of employees rated their employers’ stress support initiatives as ‘poor’.

Getting wellbeing initiatives right should be seen as an opportunity, not a challenge

As 2021 unfolds, businesses are feeling overwhelmed as to what the future holds in a post-Covid world. But a better approach would be to view this as an opportunity and use it to get their wellbeing initiatives and employee benefit offerings in line with what their staff actually want.

Businesses that use this opportunity to review and refine their wellbeing approaches will position themselves as employers that care. In turn, such an approach will also likely boost their employees’ wellbeing, which can have a positive impact on productivity and absence, as well as create brand advocates.

Your wellbeing initiative plans

What wellbeing initiatives do you currently offer your employees? If the answer is ‘none’ or you haven’t reviewed them in a while, it’s time you acted. We can help you explore what’s available and offer advice as to what’s best for your organisation and your employees.

Author: Claire Ginnelly - Managing Director