The pandemic has put a spotlight like never before on the value of supporting, and investing in, employee health and wellbeing, argues Christine Husbands. This is potentially good news for occupational health providers, but it may also mean needing to deliver more comprehensive and sophisticated workplace health solutions.
Workplace health and wellbeing support will become increasingly comprehensive and sophisticated in 2022.
The year the pandemic arrived really took the wind out of employers’ sails but those who already offered comprehensive health and wellbeing support would have felt their investment was very worthwhile, as they were able to immediately look after their employees and demonstrate their duty of care.
Fast forward to 2021 and, with health and wellbeing being better understood and appreciated, more employers offered support to staff.
We at RedArc therefore predict that 2022 will see an even greater number extend their employee benefits programmes specifically to include health and wellbeing, but that employers will also become more discerning in the quality of support services they offer.
Workplace health support
Over the past 12 months, many employers will have had their first taste of how health and wellbeing support can make a tangible difference to individual members of staff while also making practical business sense too.
Empowered with this evidence about which areas of their health and wellbeing proposition are most utilised and most effective, employers will be in a really informed position when negotiating new employee benefits contracts in 2022.
If there was ever a time to stress-test health and wellbeing support it was during a pandemic, but unfortunately for some employers and employees this will have highlighted shortfalls.
Not only will there be a greater understanding of the importance of good-quality health and wellbeing support among HR teams and employees, but there will also be a growing awareness among senior leadership teams and at a wider board level too. This is likely to unlock additional budget”
When scrutinised, some of the more tick-box types of support will not have delivered for staff or for the organisation.
Employers need to use this information to ensure they tailor their health and wellbeing benefits accordingly.
We predict that, not only will there be a greater understanding of the importance of good-quality health and wellbeing support among HR teams and employees, but there will also be a growing awareness among senior leadership teams and at a wider board level too. This is likely to unlock additional budget when better health outcomes from better support can be proven.
It stands to reason that the most effective health and wellbeing benefits are personalised, flexible and comprehensive.
All employees need to be treated as individuals: two members of staff presenting with the same symptoms may require different routes to recovery and support, so personalised support is crucial.
Flexibility is also key: an overly prescriptive menu of services may mean there is nothing available for some staff and therefore they don’t receive the support they really need or for as long as they actually require it.
Offering comprehensive levels of support is vital, as light-touch benefits may not be adequate for more serious issues.
An ‘investment’ in health and wellbeing doesn’t have to be an expensive outlay, but it is the right term to use. The investor will benefit with better supported staff, increased productivity, engagement and loyalty.
However, it is important that enlightened and empowered employers spend wisely and use the knowledge they have amassed over the last few years to demand increasingly comprehensive and sophisticated health and wellbeing support from providers.