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Posted by Justine Woolf on 21 January 2022

Act now to meet the changing needs of your employees

Pay & Reward | Wellbeing | Mental Health | ESG

Defining a wellbeing strategy is one of those things that people say is a priority, but it does not always happen – indeed, a recent report by Mercer showed 48% of executives rank employee wellbeing as a top workforce concern, yet only 29% of HR leaders had a health and wellbeing strategy.

A strategy is more than just a list of benefits under the various mental, physical, social & financial pillars; it requires clearly defined end goals - what are you trying to achieve through wellbeing long-term, and how does this link to your people plan & business goals. 

To create an impactful strategy, you need to identify, understand, and act on the changing needs of your employees to ensure your wellbeing provision is relevant and fit for purpose. Start by understanding & clarifying who you are as an employer. What do you stand for as a business, and how should your approach to wellbeing align with that? What is your agenda? What are you prepared to invest in? In this competitive marketplace, how do you want to set yourselves apart from the crowd, and how can you use benefits & wellbeing to support this? 

It is also critical to find out what employees want & employees value. Perceptions about what people value have changed, the pandemic has forced many people to reconsider how they want to spend their time and what they value, so asking them now might give you different answers to what they may have said 18 months ago.
From here, you can identify the gaps between your current and ideal proposition. What will the cost of new initiatives be? How will it help you achieve your strategic ambitions? What will the return on investment be to ensure you get senior management on board?

A study by Deloitte on mental health suggested employers can expect to get an average return of £5 for every £1 spent (5:1), but this varies depending on the nature of the intervention. For example, companies can expect a 3:1 return on a reactive approach to mental health, compared to an average return of 6:1 for a proactive company-wide culture/awareness-raising approach.

There can also be significant benefits to the organisation by getting your wellbeing strategy right. Studies have shown a correlation between improvements to wellbeing and a positive impact on customer satisfaction & retention. There is also an indisputable link between employee wellbeing and low turnover - employers who create cultures of health see lower turnover than employers who did little to prioritise employee wellbeing. So be clear about what it is you are trying to achieve, establish what it will cost & what the benefits will be for your organization, how you will deliver it, how you will measure success, and what your roadmap for delivery will be.

The most critical element of your wellbeing strategy is its promotion. It is no good having a proposition with ambitious goals if no one knows about it! But that is the reality for many businesses today. On average, small organisations offer 25 health interventions, medium and large organisations offer 30 health interventions, but only around 1/3 of employees know about the support available.

Pre-pandemic, surveys suggested that communicating wellbeing was done via email, posters, and leaflets, or dedicated wellbeing pages on the intranet – but if we are not in the office regularly or are out and about and do not have time to look on the intranet or email, we miss this messaging.

The role of technology has stepped up and is the future direction – I don’t know about you, but I am permanently attached to my phone. It is the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing I see before I go to bed. And we are using our phones and tech more now to help us monitor our wellbeing - from sleep, fitness, and diet or to seek medical advice from a virtual GP. Now I suspect this has only increased over the last year, so it makes logical sense to equip employees with the digital tools they need to take control of their wellbeing.

Using wellbeing platforms accessed via your mobile phone allow employees to connect with your wellbeing strategy. Sending push notifications to staff means you can get your message out to disconnected employees working on the frontline or remote locations. Instead of using posters or leaflets, you can use messaging via the app to prompt staff to access it – each time is a reminder of what is available. 

A seamless interface is critical. Many organisations use different providers for benefits – from Pension, Private healthcare, to insurance - and being able to access them all in one place with a single sign-on cannot only speed up access but also encourage people to look at them more regularly. By reducing the need to find their membership numbers or contact details if they need to access the EAP or Video Doc, for example, with single sign-on, it’s in the palm of their hand. Fundamentally you want your wellbeing proposition to be at the forefront of employees minds, reinforcing why you offer these benefits in the first place – to support them.

We know that supporting employees with wellbeing is not only the right thing to do, but it benefits our businesses in terms of happier and more productive employees and longer-term cost savings on absence and turnover. But getting the measurement right is tricky - most organisations manage wellbeing in a disconnected way. According to REBA, only 1 in 7 can calculate the ROI of benefits spend. Why? Because it is hard! It requires you to pull together information, assuming you can generate it, and make sense of it.

That’s what we’ve been trying to do at Innecto. We created a framework called our wellbeing dashboard. It aims to sharpen the focus on each wellbeing pillar so you can understand areas with the most impact, then align the outputs with your strategic intent. It creates a baseline picture of how employees feel via a questionnaire. Compare this to ONS wellbeing data to form a Simple Net Wellbeing Score that builds on existing data and tracks progress against it. By overlaying demographic data such as department, work location, age, gender, ethnicity (data-dependent), you can identify which wellbeing dimension (financial, social, physical, mental, or career) is the primary driver for lower or higher wellbeing levels for different employee groups. Tailor your wellbeing approach to the needs of different cohorts.

This gives you a tracking model that helps you show:

  • How effective your wellbeing strategy is and whether it is making a difference
  • Where to direct investment
  • How your organisation compares to national average wellbeing data
  • Whether employees are engaged enough for it to make a difference
  • How to leverage wellbeing to influence your responsible reward agenda
  • Where to create return-on-investment strategies
  • What ‘Wellbeing Levers’ to pull to create an effective wellbeing programme

There are no legal requirements currently to report wellbeing outcomes, but more businesses are capturing progress within their ESG reporting. You can evidence how you make a difference, how you treat your employees and the impact of your actions. It is sought after by investors, external stakeholders, customers, and prospective employees. 

Organisations are accounted for by the reports and are rated on ESG standing by others. Ensure the perception meets the reality - demonstrate the dashboard how you are monitoring and adjusting your wellbeing focus. To ensure your proposition remains relevant, you need to be continually reviewing and assessing the relevance & impact. Using your wellbeing levers, you can identify specifically for your population which levers you need to be pulling for your current demographic, but as your population profile changes, so will employee needs and values.

If you would like to find out more about our Wellbeing Dashboard, you can download our flyer here, or if you’d like to discuss anything mentioned here in more detail, I would be more than happy to have a chat. Call me on +44 (0)20 3457 0894, or email me (justine.woolf@innecto.com).

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