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07 Oct 2022
by Pippa Andrews

Why employee wellbeing will be a hot topic this winter

As the rising cost of living bites, support for staff wellbeing is going to be needed more than ever

Ways to keep employee wellbeing warm this winter.jpg 1


The Covid-19 pandemic put employee wellbeing well and truly in the spotlight, but the focus, as we look towards the winter, has to be on keeping it on the business agenda.

While new Prime Minister Liz Truss’s announcement of emergency support for energy bills will provide some welcome relief short-term, it’s widely expected that the winter months will be challenging for households and businesses, too. Many businesses – and consumers – are already starting to feel the pinch.

All this is happening at a time when UK unemployment has been at a near 50-year low and job vacancies at record highs. But appetites for switching employers could diminish as we go deeper into recession, workforces begin to shrink and employees start to question their job security.

Nevertheless, as well as the retention provided by benefits wellness programmes over the past couple of years, support for employee mental health and wellbeing is only going to grow in importance.

More mental health support needed

However difficult things become, a key message for employers of all shapes and sizes is that the support provided through private medical insurance and employee wellness programmes will become more needed – not less.     

Given the impact of employee ill-health on absence and presenteeism, and in light of the ongoing pressure on the NHS, there has never been a stronger case for having a group private medical insurance scheme that increases access to healthcare, alongside a wellness programme that incentivises preventative lifestyle choices – both physical and mentally.

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Putting the ‘S’ into ESG

For employers, a main focus in recent times has been on ensuring businesses meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.

With much of the attention on sustainability, another important driver, going into winter especially, will be louder calls for organisations to put the ‘S’ (social) into their ESG strategies, by showing how they are looking after their people. This is where a wellbeing scheme that helps keep staff healthy and reduces the burden on the NHS will play a crucial role.

Recent research by CBI Economics in partnership with Vitality alarmingly revealed that more than two-fifths (42%) of businesses either do not include employee health and wellbeing on their company risk register, or do not have a risk register. Over a quarter do not currently measure it at all.

With businesses expected to do more than just turn over a profit these days – and actually do good – eyes will be on how employers are stepping up to support staff wellbeing.

Link between wellbeing and productivity

It’s important to remember the direct link between employee wellbeing and productivity. Just because employees turn up to the workplace, or work remotely, doesn’t guarantee that their organisation is getting the best out of them.

Indeed, Vitality’s previous Britain’s Healthiest Workplace employee wellbeing survey findings showed this problem equated to 38 productive days lost per employee per year. 

Furthermore, the recent CBI research shows that seven in 10 businesses see increased productivity as the main benefit of introducing or evolving their health and wellbeing policies, which, of course, delivers many benefits to their bottom line.

The simple fact is that, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, giving employees the tools they need to make positive lifestyle changes, regardless of where they are working, not only unlocks productivity, but will benefit businesses by offering them tangible return on investment.

A turnkey solution is the answer

The good news is that employers do not need to spend a fortune on an effective and highly sophisticated wellbeing structure. A comprehensive, personalised end-to-end workplace wellbeing solution offering private medical insurance, employee mental health support as well as savings and benefits all in one place – is the answer.

Such a one-stop-shop can be the key that unlocks more than just retention benefits, through an evidence-based health promotion programme that incentivises and rewards better lifestyle choices in a way that helps keeps employees healthy and improves productivity.

Not only that, it can also help staff cut costs on things they’d rather not give up - such as gym memberships, running shoes and other discounted services – at a time when budgets are tight.

As we enter the darker, winter months, supporting staff to lead healthier and more productive lives has never been more important. Not only is it the right thing to do for staff, but it is good for businesses too. The pandemic put staff wellbeing into the spotlight. This winter is about keeping that light on.

To get deeper insight into the employee health and wellbeing of your organisation, take part in Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey.

In partnership with Vitality

At Vitality, we take a unique approach to insurance. As well as providing high-quality comprehensive cover, we provide a complete wellness package that can help boost employee engagement and productivity.

Contact us today