The majority of employers are now considering high pressure or high intensity work, which can have a detrimental effect on employee wellbeing, as a key business risk.
This is according to research from the Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA) and AXA Health, which found 95% of organisations recognised such working conditions as a direct risk to their business performance.
Numerous studies have exposed the link between high pressure working environments and poor mental health, and this has been heightened by the pandemic.
Debi O’Donovan, director and co-founder of REBA, said “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on employee wellbeing has been enormous. It has brought risk to the fore across all areas of wellbeing – physical, mental, financial and social – and magnified issues such as high pressure work environments which were already damaging employee health even before the current crisis.”
In response, 47% of employers that took part in the REBA 2021 employee wellbeing research expected their wellbeing budgets to increase during 2021.
Compared with 2020’s survey, the use of virtual GP services has leapt by 69%, the number of employers offering a wellbeing app has increased by 60%, and the number of firms with a dedicated health and wellbeing website rose 30%.
However, almost half (47%) felt a lack of key performance indicators prevented them from understanding the effectiveness of wellbeing initiatives. Only 19% of private sector firms had a close link between their wellbeing strategy and their business strategy.
Asked about their key wellbeing priorities for 2021, 63% said improving the inclusivity of their approach was vital and 38% said they would be introducing new benefits to address emerging challenges.
O’Donovan said: “While a small number of employers have a strong lens on inclusion across their wellbeing programmes, our data shows that there will be an increased focus during 2021. The pandemic has widened existing socio-economic disparities between different groups in the workforce. That could have a long-lasting impact on employee engagement and productivity, and employers need to address this now through their wellbeing programmes and workplace culture.”
Soraya Chamberlain, corporate director for AXA Health, said: “Today’s wellbeing programmes are being asked to offer both breadth and depth in supporting people risk. This report highlights that clear, collaborative and sustained strategies will bear the best results, especially where organisations tap into valuable tools and resources, in particular, their line managers, who play such a vital role in their programmes’ success”.
Some 82% of private sector organisations polled had some form of wellbeing strategy, versus just 25% in 2016.
Some 279 organisations took part in the survey, the majority of which had more than 250 employees.