Limited budgets greatest challenge to wellness programmes at work

wellness at workSixty-five per cent of respondents in a new survey across Europe, the Middle East and Africa claim that stress and mental health are the health and wellness issues they are most concerned about. Fifty-three per cent say that employees’ physical health is the biggest issue, while unhealthy lifestyles are judged to be the biggest issue by 49 percent. However, according to the study from Aon, only 32 percent of employers have emotional or psychological health programmes in place and 69 percent say limited budgets are their biggest challenge. While 93 percent of employers see a correlation between health and employee performance, just 13 percent of respondents measure outcomes of health strategies. The findings pinpoint areas for improvement and make recommendations to increase health benefits take-up, improve measurement on the impact of health initiatives and to maximise the return on investment that firms make in employee health.

The report, which polled 500 HR directors and risk managers from 22 countries showed similarities, and marked differences, of organisational approaches to employee health  and wellness across the EMEA region.

Mario Hooglugt, health leader of Aon EMEA, explained: “The fact that the vast majority of EMEA employers see a correlation between employee health and performance is encouraging. “This thinking has quite rightly entered the corporate psyche, a far cry from a few years ago. However, this journey needs to continue to progress. Now it’s about putting a strategy in place to support employees as well as measuring a programme’s performance to ensure that it benefits corporate objectives effectively.”

The study also showed remarkable differences in regional challenges:

  • Ireland: Attracting and retaining talent is the biggest issue for 89 percent versus 51 percent average
  • Latvia: Encouraging sustainable employability – 26 percent versus 9 percent average
  • Netherlands: Handling ageing of employees – 41 percent versus 11 percent average
  • Netherlands: Encouraging sustainable employability – 36 percent versus 9 percent average
  • Africa: Reducing employee absenteeism – 20 percent versus 11 percent average
  • Central and Eastern Europe: Increasing productivity and employee performance – 65 percent versus 52 percent average
  • In the technology industry, attracting and retaining talent is the biggest challenge – 75 percent versus 50 percent average.

The study also showed that employer priorities include increasing productivity and employee performance (52 percent), attracting and retaining talent (51 percent), improving employee engagement (49 percent) and reducing or managing costs (44 percent).

Employers are far less concerned about tackling long-term absence (4 percent), developing corporate social responsibility (4 percent) and managing job mobility (7 percent).

Said Matthew Lawrence, head of broking and proposition for health and risk at Aon Employee Benefits: “With stress and mental health issues commonplace and the biggest recognised health issue for employers, it is disappointing to see that less than a third of respondents are addressing this with emotional or psychological health programmes. Helping to support the mental wellbeing of employees is crucial if they are to remain happy, present and productive.”

Click here to download the study.

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