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21 Dec 2022

4 ways to support your employees’ health and wellbeing in 2023

The physical and mental health of your employees is directly linked to better work performance

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What really makes a company an appealing employer? Remuneration and job prospects are important, but research shows that 60% of employees feel more likely to recommend an organisation as a good place to work if their employer takes effective action to support their health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Ensuring the workplace is conducive to happy, healthy employees is vital, because it is directly linked to better engagement and productivity, lower absentee levels and more effective recruitment.

Here are 4 tips for how businesses can support the physical and mental health of their employees in 2023.

1. Create a flexible work approach

Alex Fryer, senior menopause practitioner at Peppy, says: “There’s been a mindset change since the Covid-19 pandemic. We’re seeing more hybrid working and a shift in emphasis away from salary-only benefits and towards holistic wellbeing.”

Where your business set-up allows, consider introducing a hybrid work environment - a mix of in-office and remote working that ensures ultimate flexibility for employees. Not all jobs are suited to a hybrid structure, but where it is possible, hybrid working is the perfect way to assure work-life balance, providing employees with environment that can best suit their health and wellbeing needs.

Give staff the option to work flexible hours so that they’re able to find a schedule that works best for them. In December, the government said it would introduce legislation giving employees the right to request such arrangements when they start a job. Flexible working, the ability to work from home and remote-access benefits can all be hugely appealing to employees, especially parents, pregnant or menopausal staff, or anyone with caring responsibilities.

2. Introduce benefits that offer specialist, personalised support

Connecting employees to specialist support for specific health challenges, such as menopause or fertility treatment, can have a hugely beneficial impact on their wellbeing. By providing personalised expert help, it will help to plug the gaps of traditional healthcare and employee assistance programmes, which offer generalised support and are often under-used.

Benefits that support health and wellbeing should be easy to use, convenient and confidential to allow employees to make the most of them. Says Fryer: “The anonymity of digital solutions like health apps enable staff to talk about what they are going through without embarrassment.

“What’s more, digital support is accessible on their terms, day or night, connecting them one to one with human experts who have the specialist knowledge and training to offer advice and reassurance that really makes a difference.”

A study by the CIPD found that 32.5 million working days were lost to work-related ill health in 2019/20, with stress, anxiety and depression accounting for almost 18 million of these.

Providing specialist workplace benefits that support the health and wellbeing of employees can have a positive impact on productivity, absenteeism and retention, so it's a win-win for both employer and employee.

Most importantly, support for wellbeing needs to be inclusive, regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation, and accessible any time, anywhere.

3. Widen digital health and wellbeing benefits

Many company health benefits and programmes are suited more towards on-site employees than off-site ones. It can be harder to reach employees who work from home and to engage them in company wellbeing initiatives. This is where digital solutions can have value as they can be accessed anywhere, at any time.

For people with childcare responsibilities and carer roles (most likely women), providing this virtual support helps to improve the retention of female employees, while men are more likely to feel comfortable accessing confidential digital support for personal issues than speaking to a doctor face to face.

4. Health topics are not taboo

Create a work culture where employees feel able to open up to colleagues and where health topics are not seen as taboo. Fostering an environment that encourages employees to speak up takes more than just telling them that it is a safe space. It needs to be incorporated into company values. For example, by leaders opening up about their own struggles, it may encourage colleagues to do the same.

Having a culture in which employees can feel comfortable discussing difficult subjects with managers will help them to get the support they need, as well as enabling them to feel more valued by their employer, and, in turn, more loyal to the company.

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