Less than half (44%) of employers have an employee wellbeing strategy in place and a fifth do not intend to implement one within the next year and a half.
This is according to Aon’s UK Benefits & Trends Survey for 2021, which found that organisations’ health and wellbeing benefits strategies may not be hitting the mark.
Although 56% planned to have board-level sponsorship for their health and wellbeing initiatives, highlighting the importance it was being given by many firms, the majority of HR and benefits and rewards specialists polled did not yet have a wellbeing strategy and 70% did not have a designated health and wellbeing budget.
Health and wellbeing benefits
Of those who did have a strategy, only 9% were actively measuring its return on investment, despite Aon suggesting that this is a crucial way to assess whether they were meeting employees’ needs.
There was also some risk that employers would focus too heavily on emotional and mental health and ignore the other pillars of wellbeing: physical, financial, career and social. Some 76% had an emotional and mental wellbeing strategy in place, up eight percentage points from 2020, but only 32% had a career strategy and just 30% had a social wellbeing programme.
Mark Witte, head of health and risk consulting for Health Solutions UK at Aon, said: “There is a danger that the impact of the pandemic means employers focus the majority of their efforts on emotional and mental initiatives, and whilst this is vitally important, we urge employers to ensure the other pillars of wellbeing are not forgotten.
“The events of the past 12 months have elevated the importance of employee health as a business-critical issue. This year will undoubtedly see continued focus on wellbeing activity with a greater demand for data and insight to help not just strategy design, but also better measure value and return on investment.”
Witte said it was encouraging that a third of those surveyed intended to have a formalised health and wellbeing strategy in place over the next 12-18 months.
“The fact that less than half of the employers we surveyed have a comprehensive wellbeing strategy in place is perhaps one of the key observations from this year’s survey. There is no shortage of investment in health and benefits generally, nor is there a lack of focus on specific support; however, overall, wellbeing activity all too often lacks strategic focus,” he said.
The survey of 332 employers also found that:
- 55% were using employee engagement surveys to inform their health and wellbeing programmes
- 78% were looking to focus their 2021 healthcare spend on education and prevention
- 39% planned to provide access to treatment
- 41% had a financial wellbeing strategy, but the proportion of employers with no plans to implement one increased from 30% last year to 39% in 2021
- 61% had defined strategy for physical health, a marginal decrease from 65% in 2020.