Flexible work arrangements are leading component of wellness policies globally

Flexible working policies leading component of wellness policies globallyIn the midst of the August summer holidays; it’s now more than ever that flexible working policies can benefit both employees and employers, so that those who need to get stuff done can get on with it without having to sit in a near empty office for form’s sake. So it comes as little surprise that in a new global survey, polices related to flexible work arrangements and paid time off rank as the number one component of wellness programs globally. According to “Working Well: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies,” the concept of wellness at work has evolved over the last seven years, moving from a focus on basic health promotion activities to a culture where seventy-eight per cent of the world’s employers are strongly committed to creating a workplace culture of health, to boost individual engagement and organizational performance.

This latest report was conducted by Buck Consultants at Xerox 43 per cent say they created a brand identity for their employee wellness programs, 52 per cent offer health insurance premium reductions, and 65 per cent believe wellness programs are extremely or very important to attract and retain workers.

“When we began this survey in 2007, employers were focused on basic health promotion activities,” said Dave Ratcliffe, principal, Buck Consultants at Xerox.

“Today, our sixth survey shows an evolution in employer thinking to a much more holistic and measurable approach. Workers’ wellness is now viewed as a state of well-being across the spectrum of health, wealth, and career.

“Wellness is part of the employee value proposition. Social media, gamification, mobile technology, automated coaching, and personalized communication are all part of the mix.”

The commitment to employee wellness and a corporate culture of health prevails even as the challenges identified by Buck’s previous surveys persist. Participation rates indicate that employers are still struggling to find effective approaches to motivate workers. And there is a significant gap between employers’ stated desire to create a culture of health and their current progress in achieving this goal.

Survey findings show that 52 per cent of employers worldwide are measuring the outcomes from their wellness programs – up from 36 per cent in 2012.

“The globalization of employers’ wellness programs among multinational companies has risen significantly over the last seven years, from 34 per cent in 2008 to 56 percent in 2014,” said Sheldon Kenton, senior vice president, Cigna Global Employer Sales, one of the sponsors of the report. “This has occurred even though it is challenging for employers to create a global wellness strategy because of differing cultures, laws and practices around the world.”

The report also reveals that globally, too much stress, too little exercise and a poor diet remain the top wellness-related areas of focus for employers; while in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, worker safety is the number one concern.

Buck Consultants at Xerox conducted the survey in association with Cigna, Wolf Kirsten International Health Consulting and the Global Healthy Workplace Awards.