Wellbeing strategies more commonplace in UK, but employees aren’t benefitting

A new study from consultancy Barnett Waddingham based on the firm’s UK Workplace Wellbeing Index claims that despite wellbeing strategies becoming more common practice in UK companies, the benefits are not yet reaching employees. According to the report, nearly three quarters of firms who responded to the study claim they already have introduced a strategy or are in the process of implementing one. However, 60 percent of participating organisations report their employee wellbeing as between moderate and very low. According to the study organisations need to ask themselves if they are providing the benefits and interventions that are most effective for their employees. The research shows that the top five widely offered benefits (rated by effectiveness) are flexible working or home working, carer support, health assessments, line manager training and cancer screening. However, those most commonly utilised are flexible working, line manager training, carer support, home working and occupational health.

According to the authors, an example of how this currently isn’t coordinated successfully is that only 23 percent of companies offer cancer screening to employees despite the fact it is rated as a top five benefit for effectiveness. In comparison, 73 percent of employers offer a cycle-to-work scheme even though it is not considered a top ten effective benefit.

The good news is that UK companies acknowledge the importance of wellbeing with almost all (96 percent) stating that it is important to their organisation, with those rating wellbeing as ‘very important’ increasing from 63 percent in 2016 to 71 percent this year.

Cost is still a big barrier for many organisations. 32 percent of employers identify a lack of resource as the biggest barrier and 18 percent state expense. However, a successful wellbeing strategy can have a high return on investment, helping to recruit and retain high quality employees.

Laura Matthews, Wellbeing Consultant at Barnett Waddingham, said; “Wellbeing strategies need to take in to account the wants and needs of the employees to be effective for an organisation. Implementing a wellbeing strategy doesn’t necessarily need to be a costly exercise. It could be as simple as analysing what you currently have, bringing it together holistically and ensuring it is effectively communicated. Wellbeing is certainly on the agenda and in order to break down the barriers companies need to understand what is important to their employees, and use data to implement bespoke strategies that are right for their workforce. With the right approach for each employer, wellbeing levels will rise and there will be a return on investment.”

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