Over 70% of organisations admit they are spending less on wellbeing benefits than previous years and think they need to do more.
This was the finding of a WTW Emerging Trends in Health Care Delivery survey 2022 of a range of companies across the UK.
For 36% of companies, more equates to doubling their current spending on employee wellbeing initiatives, despite the potential of a recess and concern around inflation.
While in contrast, for just over a quarter of companies (28%), concerns for employees in light of the cost-of-living crisis have accelerated their focus on wellbeing.
Many companies now plan to offer more healthcare benefits for employees, with at least a fifth looking to introduce support for neurodiversity, men’s health, reproductive health or support for carers.
It’s not just employee wellbeing that is worrying businesses. They have also raised concerns about burnout (64%) and poor financial wellbeing and its associated health impacts (63%) among employees. These most prevalent issues have the largest impact on productivity. About 40% of employers also have growing concerns about the wellbeing of employees with caring responsibilities and the rise in musculoskeletal issues.
Lucie McGrath, wellbeing expert at WTW says: “Numerous factors such as a growing focus on our wellbeing in recent years, the backlog of patients waiting for diagnoses and treatment via the NHS, and a desire to achieve greater inclusion and diversity has guided many employers to reassess the value of their health benefits for employees.
“There’s a greater awareness that broader health issues have an impact on employee productivity, and employers understand that it pays to assist their employees on a more personal level.
“For example, we’re seeing a particular surge in the number of organisations that are offering support around routine pregnancy and childbirth (39%), which historically has only been available via state provisions. There is a growing awareness that employers need to do more to support employees during every life stage and this focus is only likely to increase as pressure on NHS resources continues.”
Organisations (63%) rank financial wellbeing as a key area of concern for their employees, but only 33% think they are effective at addressing it. And while many employers feel they provide effective emotional (69%) and physical wellbeing support (66%) to staff, only 38% of employees attribute the support of company services to improving their mental health, and only 37% of staff say their organisations helped them live a healthier lifestyle.
Organisations (93%) also worry employees won’t be able to get the support they need outside of the business and have growing concerns about the length of NHS waiting lists. Ninety per cent of companies think that the late diagnosis of new conditions and delayed treatment of existing conditions will be a serious issue impacting claims costs and benefit premiums.
The increase in the review of benefits strategies is being led by the strong competition for talent (72% of organisations) and a growing focus on inclusion and diversity (67% of organisations). While three in five companies say the cost-of-living crisis (62%) and a greater focus on ESG (60%) are playing a part in overhauling benefit strategies.
As a result, six in 10 employers are planning or considering offering ESG-aligned benefits to their workforce, and half are looking at requiring benefit providers to evidence their ESG policies and credentials. However, rising costs, limited internal resources and the complexity of change are presenting key challenges in the face of companies being able to deliver on improved benefit strategies