BY : BEN CLARKE
FTSE companies that support their staff’s wellbeing, outperform their competitors by 10%, so it makes good business sense to look after staff. When employees are looked after well by a company, they’re more likely to stay, it’s easier to recruit good people, they’re engaged, more productive, and all in all it makes for a happier environment for everyone.
WELLBEING: SO MUCH MORE THAN PHYSICAL
It’s important to remember that wellbeing is so much more than physical. It needs to encompass financial and mental too. Research by Mind showed that 84% of employers believe that staff who feel their mental wellbeing is supported at work are less likely to leave and seek another employer. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently highlighted that two-fifths of employees are struggling financially, in part due to the added pressures of COVID-19 on personal finances. When employees are stressed because of finances, it distracts them from work, it causes sleepless nights and people don’t perform at their best.
There are many things that employers can do to support the wellbeing of staff. It can be really helpful to start by building an understanding of how people are. A pulse survey can be a great way to get a handle on what employees value. You’ll learn what they like about what you already offer and get a clear idea of what else will support their wellbeing. The wish list doesn’t have to come with a high price tag. We all like to feel appreciated and this is often a case of taking time to acknowledge good work. Support for personal development is highly valued and when this is led by the employee, it can increase engagement. The employee benefits industry recognises the huge part that employee benefits can play in supporting wellbeing. There is now a lot available at employers’ fingertips, which can all make a tangible difference. Long gone are the days when a pension and private medical insurance ticked the box. The choices are now more nuanced, cheaper and wider ranging.
Debt management, financial guidance, retirement planning, budget planning can all help employees get a handle on their finances. These can be available in person, one-tone, in groups, via online platforms and apps. Support can be tailored to specific needs and it’s confidential. Employees can struggle to know where to start when it comes to getting help and that’s when issues can escalate. We see the huge difference it makes when employees have a better understanding of their finances. When financial wellbeing improves, all other areas of wellbeing improve too.
Many employers know that it’s a good thing to support the mental wellbeing of their workforce, but don’t know how to. Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) are some of the most widely offered employee benefits and they can be a very good first step. Not all EAPs are the same, so it’s a good idea to talk to experts about what will be most relevant for your particular workforce. EAPs can include access to counselling and support for in-the moment issues. They can also include access to specialists to help with things that cause stress such as disputes with neighbours and parking fines – not obvious mental health issues, but stressful nonetheless. EAPs can be a good starting point and fuller support can also be offered to provide more comprehensive support if needed.
Private medical insurance comes in many shapes and sizes, appropriate for every size of company and budget, so it’s always worth investigating. But there are lots of other options too. Cashplans provide discounts on everyday health costs such as dental and optical care. Health and fitness apps can help employees build a better understanding of their overall fitness, develop goals and provide incentives for improvements. Health screening, targeted at particular demographics – for instance for specific women’s and men’s health issues – can be a great tool for prevention and early intervention.
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