Employers of choice: wellbeing strategies help organisations stand out from the crowd

Provision of wellbeing services is critical for employee engagement and creating a positive working culture. But any plan needs to be relevant and targeted if
it is to achieve results for employee health goals – and business goals.

Employers of choice

This is the third year that Punter Southall Health & Protection has supported REBA's Employee Wellbeing Research.

What is clear to see is that, for organisations of all sizes, wellbeing is now firmly on the corporate agenda.

As employers we find ourselves facing enormous challenges. We have an ageing population; the NHS is being squeezed from all angles; we are working longer than ever before and businesses must find new ways to recruit and retain talent.

Set against this backdrop, leading organisations are seeking to differentiate themselves as employers of choice. Increasingly, wellbeing is becoming a critical part of building employee engagement and creating the right culture needed to give them an edge.

More than ever before, employees are looking to their employers to help them access the services they need to stay fit and healthy and able to stay in work. Whether that involves flexible working, on-site gyms, quick access to healthcare services or mental health support, building the right programme for your workforce is key.

And as research shows that healthy staff are likely to be happier and therefore more productive, it’s a compelling business argument too.

Tackling mental health

It is positive to see that mental health is now a primary concern for employers. In previous years, few people talked openly about mental health. But recent campaigns such as Time to Change and the support from high profile advocates such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have resulted in a shift in attitudes. There seems to be a growing openness and willingness in the workplace to talk about a subject that for so long has been highly stigmatised.

But more can and must be done by employers to help employees with a mental illness. First, in terms of providing access to support services such as counselling, mental health first aiders and employee assistance programmes.

And second, in terms of offering line manager training so this crucial group of people is equipped to support and manage employees with a mental health condition in the first place.

Building a relevant strategy for your people

In order for your wellbeing strategy to be effective, it’s essential that you take the time to fully understand the dynamics and make up of your workforce. Unless you can identify the specific health and wellbeing challenges they face – high levels of stress, poor sleep, money worries, lack of exercise or mental health concerns, for example – you won’t be able to create a strategy that can be targeted effectively and that ultimately helps to improve wellbeing in your workplace.

The first step is to conduct a full review of all the data available within your organisation to pinpoint areas that need attention. Once you have that fuller picture, you can use this information to build a tailored programme with quantifiable objectives.

When it comes to wellbeing, there’s always going to be a discussion around cost. However rather than asking, “Can we afford to implement a strategy to look after employee wellbeing?” the real question should be, can you afford not to?

John Dean is chief commercial officer at Punter Southall Health & Protection.

John Dean is speaking at REBA's Employee Wellbeing Congress 2018, which is being held on 5 July in London. 

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