The experience of the past two years of pandemic has convinced almost all employers (95%) that they now have a responsibility for looking after, supporting and promoting employee health and wellbeing – but there is little sign of this yet translating into concrete action or investment.
Aon’s Benefits & Trends Survey 2022 reported a significant increase in the past year in the number of employers who strongly agreed they had a responsibility for the health and wellbeing of their employees.
The figure had risen from just a fifth (20%) in 2021 to more than half of all respondents (51%) in 2022, it found. A further 44% agreed they had a responsibility but didn’t feel strongly about it, and just 5% disagreed or did not have a view.
However, whether this acceptance in principle is actually translating into hard cash investment in employee health and wellbeing remains more of an open question.
Only 44% of the 253 HR professionals polled said their organisation had a formalised health and wellbeing strategy, although 32% said they “planned” to have one within the next 12 to 18 months, a figure that had remained unchanged from last year.
Additionally, 70% admitted they did not have a dedicated budget for a health and wellbeing programme, just 8% measured the return on investment of their health and wellbeing programmes, and fewer than half (46%) had an executive sponsor for their health and wellbeing strategy.
Drilling down into the details of the survey, of those employers that did have a formal wellbeing strategy, all (100%) offered dedicated support for emotional and mental wellbeing.
Almost all (97%) did the same for physical wellbeing and three-quarters (75%) provided structured financial wellbeing support.
Interestingly, social wellbeing was becoming an increasing priority for employers (62%), highlighting growing awareness of the importance of positive human connections and the growing societal issue of loneliness, Aon argued.
Another significant shift from last year’s survey was double-digit percentage increases across all data-sets when respondents were asked what company-specific data analytics are now being used to inform and push forward their corporate health and wellbeing strategies.
The employers surveyed highlighted that data is now being collected and crunched from a variety of sources. These included employee assistance programme take up (75%), employee engagement surveys (68%), absence data (62%) and occupational health data (52%). Data from medical, income protection, life and critical illness policies was being used by 42% of the employers surveyed.
Mark Witte, principal – health and risk at Aon, said: “This stand-out statistic of 95% of employers agreeing they have a responsibility for their employees’ health and wellbeing is the most notable shift from previous years’ surveys.
“It is easy to draw connections to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the heightened awareness of ill health, but the word ‘responsibility’ is important.
“Given the acceptance that the employer has a role to play in supporting employee wellbeing, it is disappointing that this year’s research shows no change in terms of the number of employers with a formal strategy in place or planning to do so in the near future,” he added.