Seven in 10 organisations admit to spending less on employee wellbeing benefits than they need to, according to research that finds the impending recession affected their ability to invest.
Research by employee benefits and risk consultancy WTW, formerly Willis Towers Watson, has found many organisations believe they should be doubling their investment in employee wellbeing, but 36% feel rising costs have hindered this.
Burnout (64%) and poor financial wellbeing (63%) are among organisations’ biggest concerns when it comes to employees’ health and wellbeing. Forty per cent have particular concerns about the wellbeing of those with caring responsibilities.
Despite worries about workers’ financial resilience as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, only 33% think their organisation is effective at addressing it.
The research, which involved 173 UK employers across a broad range of industries, suggested employers are more in tune with supporting workers’ physical health, although they still had concerns. More than nine in 10 organisations have growing concerns about lengthening NHS waiting lists, with nearly the same proportion agreeing that late diagnosis of new conditions and delayed treatment of existing conditions will be a serious issue impacting on their claims costs and benefit premiums.
Investment in employee wellbeing
WTW’s wellbeing expert Lucie McGrath said that employers understand that it pays to assist their employees on a more personal level.
“Numerous factors such as a growing focus on our wellbeing in recent years, the backlog of patients waiting for diagnoses and treatment via the NHS, and a desire to achieve greater inclusion and diversity has guided many employers to reassess the value of their health benefits for employees,” she said.
“For example, we’re seeing a particular surge in the number of organisations that are offering support around routine pregnancy and childbirth (39%), which historically has only been available via state provisions. There is a growing awareness that employers need to do more to support employees during every life stage and this focus is only likely to increase as pressure on NHS resources continues.”
However, separate research from financial wellbeing platform Claro Wellbeing has suggested that a third of organisations are “wellbeing washing”, by sharing social media posts and holding mental health awareness events without providing adequate support to their employees.
Its survey of 1,000 employees found that while 71% said their workplaces marked mental health awareness days, only 36% rated their employer’s mental health support as good or outstanding.
Of the employees that said their employer did offer support, almost half (49%) had a helpline, 44% were offered counselling and 38% had access to trained mental health first-aiders.
Stacey Lowman, head of employee wellbeing at Claro Wellbeing, said: “While it’s vital to raise awareness of mental health conditions and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their experiences, companies must provide accessible support to their workforce to make any improvement on wellbeing.
“As the cost-of-living crisis continues, a growing number of people also have money worries, and specific financial wellbeing support can be offered to employees to help them increase their financial confidence. Research shows one in two junior-level workers worry about their personal finances, but only 22% of people said their employer provided some sort of financial coaching.”