We Ask the Experts

What will be the biggest change that HR has to consider in wellbeing benefits?

Coty Premier Foods Ellas Kitchen

Employee wellbeing has been a top priority for the people function in the last 18 months as the coronavirus crisis unfolded.

During this time, to help staff, many employers deployed a range of health and wellbeing benefits – whether this was virtual fitness classes or mindfulness sessions – to support employees.

Yet, now that ‘Freedom Day’ has passed in England – and as employers consider when and where work will take place going forwards – it is a time for HR to consider its current wellbeing offering, and whether it is delivering what it should be. Data has pointed towards areas which staff feel employers could get better.

For example, 2020 research from Secondsight found that 51% of staff believe that their employer should be offering more mental health support. Elsewhere, research from Nudge Global – as was reported by Inspiring Workplaces – found that 67% of staff would like employers to help with financial support.

To find out the biggest changes HR should consider in terms of wellbeing benefits, myGrapevine magazine caught up with two of our Advisory Board members and one wellbeing expert.

Their advice is below.

Advisory Board Member

Jeanette Wheeler,
HR Director,
MHR International Ltd

“Ensuring support for mental and physical wellness will continue to be a staple of a good wellbeing strategy. This may include Employee Assistance Programmes and virtual GPs. It is vital HR ensures that employees remain connected to their organisations and their colleagues, despite their working location, maintaining support and collaborative / social networks will be increasingly important in reducing incidences of isolation and stress.

“Further to this, we see an increased need for financial wellbeing support. For many people the pandemic has intensified financial concerns. Financial wellbeing benefits may include pension advice, debt counselling or savings advice support.”

51% of employees want more employer-led mental health support – Secondsight 2020

51% of employees want more employer-led mental health support – Secondsight 2020

Jeanette Wheeler,
HR Director,
MHR International Ltd

“Ensuring support for mental and physical wellness will continue to be a staple of a good wellbeing strategy, this may include Employee Assistance Programmes and virtual GPs. It is vital HR ensures that employees remain connected to their organisations and their colleagues, despite their working location, maintaining support and collaborative / social networks will be increasingly important in reducing incidences of isolation and stress.

“Further to this, we see an increased need for financial wellbeing support. For many people the pandemic has intensified financial concerns. Financial wellbeing benefits may include pension advice, debt counselling or savings advice support.”

Three in five SMEs say that providing health and wellbeing benefits plays a big role in supporting the productivity of their organisation – Association of British Insurers (ABI) 2021

Advisory Board Member

Andrea Smith,
HR Director,
Transformation UK&I, Coty

“Employee benefits have been traditionally focussed on corrective care measures or protection insurances in case of emergencies, whereas now, benefits are evolving into lifestyle enhancers. Wellbeing is not just exercise and eating well.

“Mental wellbeing has become a progressive concern in our social structure that has encouraged companies to source diverse wellbeing platforms that promote good mental health with tools such as apps that offer mindfulness techniques.

“Wellbeing benefits offer personalised support through on-demand expert practitioners and are available over various digital platforms. This could be a cost control challenge for companies with technology limitations and dedicated IT devices for all employees.

“However, the return on investment on feeling positive about ourselves and others, being able to form good relationships, and having the resilience to overcome challenges, maintains healthier people that leads to healthier companies and increases productivity and reduced absence.”

Three in five SMEs say that providing health and wellbeing benefits plays a big role in supporting the productivity of their organisation – Association of British Insurers (ABI) 2021

Andrea Smith,
HR Director,
Transformation UK&I Coty

“Employee benefits have been traditionally focussed on corrective care measures or protection insurances in case of emergencies, whereas now, benefits are evolving into lifestyle enhancers. Wellbeing is not just exercise and eating well.

“Mental wellbeing has become a progressive concern in our social structure that has encouraged companies to source diverse wellbeing platforms that promote good mental health with tools such as apps that offer mindfulness techniques.

“Wellbeing benefits offer personalised support through on demand expert practitioners and are available over various digital platforms. This could be a cost control challenge for companies with technology limitations and dedicated IT devices for all employees.

“However, the return on investment on feeling positive about ourselves and others, being able to form good relationships, and having the resilience to overcome challenges, maintains healthier people that leads to healthier companies and increases productivity and reduced absence.”

Wellbeing expert

Vicky Walker,
HR Director at Westfield Health

“HR teams now have to consider how to offer wellbeing benefits to a range of employees that are not in the same place, both physically and emotionally.

“The days of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ attitude are gone now some people are working from home, some are in the office, and some are adopting a hybrid work style. HR leaders will have to listen to individual needs more than ever before and what works best for their employees on a personal level.

“Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work, so two-way communication will be a crucial step as HR teams try to steer C-Suite decisions whilst encouraging personal, employee empowerment.”

Over half (51%) of employees have experienced an increase in worries relating to their mental health due to the coronavirus pandemic – Close Brothers’ Expecting the unexpected: a spotlight on preparing for a crisis

Over half (51%) of employees have experienced an increase in worries relating to their mental health due to the coronavirus pandemic – Close Brothers’ Expecting the unexpected: a spotlight on preparing for a crisis

Vicky Walker,
HR Director at Westfield Health

“HR teams now have to consider how to offer wellbeing benefits to a range of employees that are not in the same place, both physically and emotionally.

“The days of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ attitude are gone now some people are working from home, some are in the office, and some are adopting a hybrid work style. HR leaders will have to listen to individual needs more than ever before and what works best for their employees on a personal level.

“Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work, so two-way communication will be a crucial step as HR teams try to steer C-Suite decisions whilst encouraging personal, employee empowerment.”

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