Three ways to bring diversity, equality and inclusion together with employee wellbeing
The workplace is evolving at breakneck speed, with organisations shifting their operational structures to meet market demands and employee expectations in a post-pandemic world.
As well as a shift in attitudes and a prioritisation of wellbeing, technology has become a driving force for change. At the same time, human values such as culture, purpose and inclusivity are taking on a new prominence. Here are three ways to ensure that your reward strategies and employee wellbeing programmes promote diversity, equality and inclusion in a targeted, effective way.
1. Make your health benefits gender inclusive and gender specific
Great strides have been made in women’s health, with many companies providing support through menopause, fertility issues, pregnancy and miscarriage. Increasingly, employees view this as essential – not just ‘nice to have’ – and will vote with their feet if they’re not included in company benefits.
Last year, it was revealed that 40% of UK companies with over 1,000 employees planned to offer benefits around menopause in the next two years, while a far-reaching US survey showed that 88% of workers would change jobs to access fertility benefits.
Kathy Abernethy, director of menopause services at Peppy and past chair of the British Menopause Society, said: “Women of menopausal age are the fastest-growing demographic of the UK workforce, and it’s a fact that one in 10 of these women will consider leaving their job due to their symptoms.
“These statistics can’t be ignored when it comes to menopausal women struggling through difficult symptoms without appropriate help and understanding,” she said.
It’s not just women’s health that needs specialist support from employers – men’s health is in crisis and it’s up to employers to fill the gaps and provide wellbeing initiatives designed specifically for men.
Why? Because, contrary to popular belief, men do care about their health. The problem is that the current healthcare system has not been designed for them and few healthcare comms have been created with them in mind, so engagement is low.
And help for men’s health is very much needed; one in five of your male colleagues will die before they’re old enough to retire, 40% of men may have low testosterone levels and two in three in the UK are overweight. These enduring health problems need to be addressed with a focus on prevention and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Helen Lake, director of men’s health services at Peppy, said: “A lot of men’s health involves urinary issues, testicles, erectile dysfunction and so on. It’s difficult for men to come forward for support with such personal stuff. Virtual support allows them to seek support anonymously, and to access this support at times that suit them.”
DFS is just one of a growing number of organisations that has partnered with digital health app Peppy to offer its predominantly male staff expert support. Staff can connect 1-to-1 with experts or access articles and videos covering a range of topics from weight management, to personal training advice, to discreet support for common concerns.
As our focus on gender specific healthcare increases, so must our focus on gender inclusivity. It is vital that employers make sure certain groups are not excluded. While one in seven LGBTQ+ people avoid seeking healthcare for fear of discrimination, more than half suffer from depression. Confidential, virtual support with health experts needs to be made available to all.
To build a diverse and inclusive workforce, wellbeing programmes need to explicitly reach out to those members of the workforce who might otherwise be left behind. “For example, a trans man, while outwardly male, still has a cervix and needs to be invited to smear tests,” said Abernethy. Safe spaces, wellbeing groups and specialist, expert health support must be offered that understand and reach out to everyone in an organisation.
2. Choose more digital employee wellbeing benefits
Post-pandemic ways of working
The world of work has changed beyond all recognition during the Covid-19 pandemic. Working from home and hybrid working are here to stay, so being able to access health and wellbeing support when you aren’t physically present in the workplace is vital.
“The emphasis on work-life balance is going to continue beyond Covid,” said Abernethy. “There’s been a mindset change and people have realised that they don't need to be as driven by work as they were pre-Covid. A lot of people don’t want to go back to what they were. We're going to see more and more hybrid working and a shift in emphasis away from salary-only and towards holistic wellbeing”.
Accessible by all
Virtual support that’s accessible to all, regardless of working hours or personal circumstances, is of enormous value. For shift workers, job sharers, staff who work unconventional hours, those who are carers, new parents or home-schoolers, the ability to benefit from expert health support, day or night, will be game-changing.
3. Make data central to your strategy
Track who, when and how
Are you aware of the number of staff to whom your health programmes may be relevant? A key part of any healthcare benefit package is tracking the data around it. Unless organisations know who is making the most of the wellbeing initiatives available – and how – they remain powerless to track, evolve and improve the impact on employees.
But always emphasise privacy
Employee wellbeing support must be as accessible as possible to resonate with a diverse workforce. Usage surveys or feedback forms should remain anonymous and wherever possible the support on offer should be confidential so that employees are not put off. When it comes to reporting on and refining employee wellbeing programmes, employers must tread a fine line between tracking trends and uptake and removing unnecessary barriers to entry.
The author is Marina Gask, copywriter for Peppy.
This article is provided by Peppy.
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