Wellbeing challenge known to firms, but they need to up their game

Employers need to up their game on wellbeingA new white paper from Aon argues that while the vast majority of employers are aware of a range of wellbeing issues, they often don’t act in appropriate ways to address poor health behaviours and chronic medical conditions. The white paper Prevention Is Better Than Cure (registration) claims that 95 percent of employers see a correlation between employee health and performance and believe they have a role in trying to educate and improve poor lifestyle behaviours.

However, fewer than half are implementing a defined health strategy. When coupled with factors such as an ageing population, multigenerational workforces and employees increasingly working into their later years due to lack of retirement savings, the report argues that focusing on wellbeing, improving behavioural health and preventing disease is an issue for governments and other health bodies, as well as employers.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Ignoring the outcomes of poor employee wellbeing create challenges that link to poor health behaviours and chronic medical conditions[/perfectpullquote]

The report goes on to claim that ignoring the outcomes of poor employee wellbeing create challenges that link to poor health behaviours and chronic medical conditions. These manifest in different ways, including increased absenteeism and presenteeism, reduced productivity, increasing claim costs, poor financial wellbeing and general disengagement.

This year’s Aon’s Benefits & Trends Survey highlighted that few employers have a specific strategy in place to address conditions that affect their workforces. There is also a challenge to increase expenditure on the early stages of health issues to be in line with that spent on curing conditions. Just over a quarter (26 percent) of employers say they focus on providing education, but only 8 percent have resource for detection. Employers are more focused when it comes to access to treatment (30 percent) or long-term support (30 percent). There is a shift in focus in employers’ strategies, with 80 percent now looking to improve awareness and education.

Mark Witte, principal at Aon, says: “In recent years, there has been a significant increase in awareness about employee wellbeing – for physical, financial, emotional and social health. Given the increased awareness, as well as the impact and volatility on benefit spend associated with health conditions such as cancer, organisations are advised to understand the key reasons to support employee wellbeing.

“Whether it’s a tick box exercise or putting employee health at the heart of the business, understanding data means it is possible to define key performance indicators, help to avoid volatile costs, better understand results or create return on value, so that employee health supports overall company wellbeing. Our advice is to use data to analyse the issues that are unique to an individual business, then to ensure full consideration is given to four key stages of wellbeing: prevention and education, detection and early intervention, access to treatment and long term support. The mantra ‘prevention is better than cure’ holds true in employee benefit programmes”.