Workplace Wellbeing: What Employers Think vs. What Employees Want

Sadly, many senior business leaders 'assume' they know what their employees want when it comes to a wellbeing programme. But without actually asking, organisations risk being seen as not listening to their employees’ needs and end up with low adoption rates of the programmes (such as Group Risk benefits) that they actually implement.

[Related reading: Group Risk Products Recognised By Government In Employee Health Consultation]

Who is responsible for wellbeing?

First and foremost, better wellbeing drives productivity. So employees that enjoy good wellbeing are likely to be more productive for their employers than those who have poor wellbeing. By taking action to remove or reduce stressors, employers can proactively support their staff so their chances of falling ill are reduced, as well as avoid those with an existing illness deteriorating further.

But that’s not all. Employers actually have a legal obligation to protect mental health in the workplace. The ‘duty of care’ all employers have towards their employees means they must support the latter’s health, safety and wellbeing at work. 

Furthermore, under the Equality Act 2010, people with disabilities are protected from discrimination, harassment and victimisation. As both physical and mental impairments can be considered disabilities under this act, employers have a legal obligation to protect staff who meet this definition by making reasonable adjustments.

A ‘reasonable adjustment’ might be removing barriers and making things easier for people with disabilities at work.

In addition to wanting to help their employees, employers should know that there is no limit on the amount of compensation that can be awarded to an employee who has successfully proved they were discriminated against by a tribunal.

What employees want

It’s a sad reality that few senior business leaders actually know what their employees want. This is highlighted in Legal & General Group Protection’s latest Wellbeing at Work Barometer.

According to this research, a disparity exists between what employers think are the biggest stressors for employees and what their staff actually think. 

Indeed, 23% of employers cited Covid-19 as a top stressor for their employees. But the pandemic actually features way down the list of ‘stressors' for employees. Their top stressors were, in order of priority: ‘achieving a work life balance' (20%); ‘my own personal health' (19%); ‘my finances - earning enough money / paying off debts' (19%); ‘my family's health' (19%); workload and getting Covid-19 (both at 17%).

When senior management know what their employees want, it not only shows that they care because they’ve taken the time and effort to find out, but also improves the chances of any programmes they implement being adopted. When employees see that senior leaders are taking an interest and involving them in the discussion, it increases the likelihood of them buying into the solution introduced.

[Related reading: Employees’ Life Satisfaction Declining, Research Suggests]


The pandemic has changed how everyone thinks and it’s clear there is now a disconnect between what employers think their employees need and what they actually want. It's time to ensure you are providing relevant benefits to your workforce to make them feel valued, by listening to them and adapting to what is important to them and not just the business overall.

But, understanding and making sense of what is available in the wellbeing space can be a minefield.

In order to ensure you are providing the right type of benefits for your employees, it's important to engage with an expert. For help and advice on what is available and how to communicate this to your employees, please contact us, we are always here to help.


Author: Gill Adams - Head of SME Growth