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Home » Employee Wellbeing » Employee wellbeing is no longer just a ‘nice to have’

Deborah Frost

Chief Executive, Personal Group

COVID-19 has changed the game. Employee wellbeing is no longer an optional extra; it’s essential if you want to recruit and retain the best people.

Employers are offering wellbeing services because when people feel well, they perform better – and so does the business.

As well as benefits like OnDemand GP and health insurance, many employers now offer preventive wellbeing measures that place emphasis on exercise, sleep, healthy food and stress reduction, which have a significant impact on preventing underlying conditions.

Even before the pandemic, workers needed support to help protect their health. In the current climate, employers should think about how their current provision will support a resilient and productive workforce.

Five key reasons why ignoring wellbeing is a core business risk:

1. Attract excellent staff

Post-COVID-19, employees increasingly expect wellbeing support to form part of their benefits offering. An organisation that shows they value employees as people, not just production units, stands out in a crowded job market.

2. Improve your employee retention

With the cost of replacing an employee estimated at anything from a third to a fifth of their salary, it’s no wonder that employers want to keep staff in posts and performing at their best for as long as possible.1

3. Improve business productivity

Driving a high-performance culture without support for mental and physical health puts employees at risk of burnout. But with the right wellbeing support, your people feel empowered to perform at their best, day after day.

4. Boost employee engagement

Motivated and committed employees go the extra mile, the link between engagement and business success is recognised across industries. 

5. Reduce presenteeism and absenteeism

Absenteeism caused by low engagement or poor health costs UK businesses millions in lost productivity. Even when employees are at work, they may not be delivering return on investment.

Presenteeism – where employees are at work but aren’t functioning at 100% because of health or other issues – is another widespread problem.

An organisation that shows they value employees as people, not just production units, stands out in a crowded job market.

What makes a successful wellbeing strategy?

A complete wellbeing strategy will make a long-term difference to productivity across the workforce. Mental, physical, financial and social wellbeing are all linked, a successful strategy needs to embrace all of these aspects.

For example, a Cycle to Work scheme links physical, mental and financial wellbeing. Employees save money on a new bike and reduced fuel costs, whilst regular cycling also has a positive impact on both physical and mental health.

Your wellbeing strategy also needs to have defined objectives and markers of success. Ultimately you need to see measurable outcomes for the company’s bottom line. How will you collect information on the difference wellbeing initiatives make overall – absence figures, sick pay costs, engagement scores?

But it’s not all about hard data. Consider reaching out to your workforce for anecdotal evidence. This can be helpful when building the case for wellbeing investment to achieve less easily measured results, such as improved employee motivation and loyalty, with consequent gains for performance and productivity.

When we’re feeling well, we’re at our best. Healthy employees are more productive and take less time off, so it’s no surprise that employers see that by helping staff be well, you are ensuring your business will do well.

[1] CIPD, Employee turnover and retention (21 Jul 2020). Accessed at

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