Research: UK wellbeing strategies not hitting the spot with employees

Latest research reveals that despite wellbeing strategies becoming more common practice in UK companies, the benefits are not yet reaching employees.

off target

The UK Workplace Wellbeing Index: Employee Wellbeing in Review from Barnett Waddingham shows that 60% of companies report their employee wellbeing at moderate to very low. This is despite nearly three quarters of respondents claiming they have or are implementing a strategy in 2017.  

Organisations need to ask themselves if they are providing the benefits and interventions that are most effective for their employees. The research shows that the top five widely offered benefits (rated by effectiveness) are flexible working or home working, carer support, health assessments, line manager training and cancer screening. However, those most commonly utilised are flexible working, line manager training, carer support, home working and occupational health. 

An example of how this currently isn’t coordinated successfully is that only 23% of companies offer cancer screening to employees despite the fact it is rated as a top five benefit for effectiveness. In comparison, 73% of employers offer a cycle-to-work scheme even though it is not considered a top ten effective benefit.

Wellbeing benefits offered to staff


Interventions rated most likely to improve wellbeing

Average score out of 5

Flexible working


Flexible working and/or home working


Line manager training


Carer support (leave, childcare vouchers, elder care)


Carer support


Health assessments


Home working


Line manager training


Occupational health


Cancer screening


The good news is that UK companies acknowledge the importance of wellbeing with almost all (96%) stating that it is important to their organisation, with those rating wellbeing as ‘very important’ increasing from 63% in 2016 to 71% this year. 

Cost is still a big barrier for many organisations. 32% of employers identify a lack of resource as the biggest barrier and 18% state expense. However, a successful wellbeing strategy can have a high return on investment, helping to recruit and retain high quality employees.

Laura Matthews, wellbeing consultant at Barnett Waddingham, said; “Wellbeing strategies need to take in to account the wants and needs of the employees to be effective for an organisation. Implementing a wellbeing strategy doesn’t necessarily need to be a costly exercise. It could be as simple as analysing what you currently have, bringing it together holistically and ensuring it is effectively communicated.   

“Wellbeing is certainly on the agenda and in order to break down the barriers companies need to understand what is important to their employees, and use data to implement bespoke strategies that are right for their workforce.

“With the right approach for each employer, wellbeing levels will rise and there will be a return on investment."

Download the full Workplace Wellbeing Index 2017: Employee Wellbeing in Review

This article was provided by Barnett Waddingham.

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