Skip to main content
Home » Employee Wellbeing » Do employers really care about employee wellbeing?
Employee Wellbeing 2021

Do employers really care about employee wellbeing?

iStock / Getty Images Plus / BRO Vector

Maggie Williams

Content Director, Reward and Employee Benefits Association

If the last 12 months have shown us anything, it is that poor employee wellbeing is a core business risk.

As a result of COVID-19, we’ve seen commitment to employee wellbeing shoot up the corporate priority list, along with flexible working and remote collaboration.

Putting employee wellbeing first

For many forward-looking businesses, putting employee wellbeing at the centre of a positive workplace culture is nothing new. However, the scale of business commitment to at least some form of support has changed.

The Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA)/AXA Health Employee Wellbeing Report 2021, due for release in April, found that 82% of private sector businesses now have some form of wellbeing benefits or strategy for staff. Roll back to our 2016 report, that figure was just 25%.

However, are employers really committed to employee wellbeing as a core part of business success and corporate risk management? This year’s research found that nearly half of employers (47%) say the biggest barrier to understanding the effectiveness of wellbeing initiatives is a lack of key performance indicators to measure against.

Without that information, employers will struggle to build long-term wellbeing plans in their organisations and really understand employees’ health needs.

Employee wellbeing will continue to be as crucial as ever, far beyond the effects of the current pandemic.

Linking wellbeing to business strategy

It’s good news, then, that 91% of respondents said collecting more consistent data and management information is important or a key priority during 2021 – but what will businesses be measuring this data against? At present, only 19% of private sector respondents say that their wellbeing strategy is closely linked to business strategy.

One way to help forge closer links between day-to-day business and employee wellbeing could be to involve line managers more closely. Line managers have a dual role of contributing directly to business objectives and looking after employee wellbeing. But at present, just 25% of employers say managers are a part of their HR risk framework, and a mere 17% say positive team wellbeing is a performance indicator for line managers.

With high pressure working environments already cited as a high risk by 50% of respondents, and a medium risk by a further 45%, employee wellbeing will continue to be as crucial as ever, far beyond the effects of the current pandemic.

The 2021 findings show the extent to which wellbeing has become part of everyday business as a result of COVID-19. The next step is to make it a core part of corporate measurement, as vital to performance as profits and productivity.

Next article