Employers failing to exploit positive influence on employee health

WellbeingThree-quarters of UK employers believe they are responsible for positively influencing employee health, yet many do not appear to be doing much to ensure this happens. The annual Benefits and Trends Survey by Aon Employee Benefits found that 75 percent of businesses believe they are responsible for changing employee health and wellbeing behaviours, yet 72 percent still do not currently have a specific budget for it and 38 percent do not use any data or analytics to inform their strategy. It found that only 25 percent of employers have a branded health and wellness programme in place. More encouragingly though, a significant minority (14 percent) said that senior leadership acted as advocates of employee health, while 12 percent had location-based wellness champions. Perhaps because it doesn’t directly impact the bottom line, the most popular health and wellbeing tactic is a flexible approach to working, with 53 percent of employers saying this is offered.

Matthew Lawrence, head of broking and proposition for Health and Risk at Aon Employee Benefits, commented: “It has long been accepted that a healthy and engaged workforce is a more productive workforce. There are some positives in this year’s survey outcomes, as well as elements we can learn from too.

“The fact that employers are increasingly recognising that good employee health is important and that they know they have a central role in positively influencing employee lifestyle and behavioural risks, is encouraging. We know too, that 19 percent of employers intend to introduce a specific budget to focus on health and wellbeing within the next three years.”

The survey also showed:

  • 25 percent of employers had created a branded wellness programme.
  • Telephone medical/GP services are the most frequently cited (52 percent) health programme, with 43 percent offering physical activity challenges.
  • Onsite medical or GP services are provided by 32 percent, with the same number offering help with stress reduction.
  • Smoking cessation is offered by 30 percent of employers, with 23 percent giving advice on nutrition and 15 percent helping with weight management.

Matthew Lawrence concluded: “Generally, employers need to find the most effective route ahead – and most currently aren’t doing that. The key is to turn positive intentions into meaningful activity. We are witnessing a shift – more employers are adopting a proactive approach, moving the focus away from just managing employee ill health to using data to understand their employee health risks.”

The full 2015 Employee Benefits and Trends Survey can be downloaded here:

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