The benefits of employee wellbeing
Employee Wellbeing If your employer is taking a huge interest in staff health, then they are on trend with the latest human resources practice: workplace wellbeing is the fastest developing area within the employee benefits space.
But employee wellbeing does not come in a neat box that employers can simply buy and plug in. Although until now, too many employers have tried to do just that – by buying a menu of staff perks from gym membership and free fruit to health screenings and various insurances. They are now learning that this can be an expensive, scatter gun approach which is not always measurable. Also, it tends to be the healthy, fit staff who get excited by the perks while the less healthy ones simply ignore what is on offer.
Forward-thinking employers are moving to a ‘less is more’ way of thinking, and instead put more energy into encouraging all staff to use what is on offer. That said, what constitutes a wellbeing benefit is broadening. Financial and emotional wellbeing benefits (to deal with debt, savings, stress and feeling valued, for example) have been added to physical wellbeing benefits.
The shift is also towards a greater use of data to work out what a specific workforce might need (yes, workforces, like people, are all different). HR are also tasked with ensuring that whatever is offered is aligned with the overall business strategy.
For example, an employer with a fast-paced, growth work environment employing large numbers of young staff with student debt may focus on offering workshops to help increase mental resilience. They may also run financial education sessions to help staff manage their money more effectively. These benefits could make this particular demographic feel more cared for than being offered, say, private medical insurance.
The employer next door where staff are on a shop floor all day, may find that what really engages their staff and improves wellbeing (as well as the businesses bottom line) is the option to have onsite foot massages and to be able to ‘recognise’ (say ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’) to colleagues and team members during the day via an app, with prizes for whoever gets the most ‘well dones’. Recognition programmes are not new, but are increasingly being seen as a key part of a wellbeing programme because they help with emotional wellbeing.
For another employer, the key business objective could be to retain high levels of specialist experience within the business, so ensuring staff get regular health assessments, are well covered by health insurances should something go wrong plus ensuring they keep engaged in their work by giving them up-to-date training will be the central plank of any wellbeing strategy.
What we can quickly see is there isn’t a set formula to what workplace wellbeing is. There isn’t necessarily a must-have starter menu of benefits. What employers put in place will depend of on the culture they want to achieve, the business strategy they are striving to meet and the unique needs of their particular workforce profile.
Get that right, and you will be able to measure whether your investment has been effective.