Two-thirds of employers have introduced new wellbeing benefits

Wellbeing benefits such as virtual counselling can improve employee engagement
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More than two-thirds of organisations have introduced new wellbeing benefits to support employees during the coronavirus pandemic, a poll by Gartner has found.

Research by the analyst company revealed that 68% of employers have introduced at least one new benefit to support workers’ mental and emotional health as they adjust to new ways of working.

Before the pandemic, 45% of the increases in wellbeing budgets were already being spent on mental and emotional wellbeing programmes, it found.

Of those that provided emotional wellbeing programmes, every single organisation offered an employee assistance programme (EAP), while 48% offered counselling services and 21% provided mental health assessments.

Looking at the efficacy of various interventions, Gartner’s research found that employee engagement improved 3.1% when mental health assessments were offered.

One of the most effective wellbeing benefits organisations could offer was support groups, whose presence improved employee engagement by 5.5%. They are, however, the least common benefit offered, according to its research.

Carolina Valencia, director in the Gartner HR practice, said that organisations that can help employees adapt to the ‘new normal’ will become “employers of choice for prospective job seekers”.

She added that limited access to gyms and other services, not to mention concerns about job security, led many individuals to feel isolated.

Employers could maximise the impact of benefits they already offer by ensuring employees are aware of how they can access them, making them available over virtual channels, and identifying any areas where they could offer additional support.

Gartner advised HR leaders to survey employees to understand how their needs might have changed during the pandemic. “Progressive organisations are crowdsourcing ideas and guidance on how to support the emotional wellbeing of their employees,” the company said.

Leaders could show their support for employees’ wellbeing through sharing their own challenges and lockdown coping strategies, while HR teams could use virtual events and message boards to flag up benefits available and help staff navigate them more easily.

“Organisations are working to provide the support that employees need, whether that be emotional, mental or even financial,” added Valencia.

“Investing in employee well-being will enable organisations to have a more productive and engaged workforce – and to better retain and attract talent – now and as the pandemic subsides and employees return to the workplace.”

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