Why Employee Wellbeing Should be Part of Your Benefits Strategy

The blueprint for building a healthy and happy team is constantly evolving. What works today may not work tomorrow. In these post-pandemic times, we’re seeing things like flexibility and work-life balance causing more people to leave their job for better opportunities. Flexibility isn’t the only in-demand perk, as employees seek out wellness experiences and more.

In reality, the benefits strategy of many organisations is outdated. The modern employee wants the following three things…

  1. Employee benefits that have an immediate impact on life

  2. Personalised wellbeing for individual needs

  3. A workplace culture that puts people first.

To achieve this, we’re looking at why employee wellbeing should be part of your benefits strategy. We’ll dive into current obstacles employees face, along with the vast impact COVID-19 has had on health and wellbeing. It’s time for leaders to drop the free coffee vouchers, and offer things like mental health support, gym memberships and financial education

How employee wellbeing became the priority for employees

Let’s get one thing straight, nobody was prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. From one lockdown to the next, employees were in limbo. In 2020, around 5.6M UK employees were forced to work mainly from home. 

For some, this was a challenge in itself. Things like childcare, housework and other distractions were responsible for additional stresses. For others, remote work was an improvement on their work-life balance. 

To battle the strain on health and wellbeing, many employers ramped up their support, with around 96% of companies offering more mental health resources. That said, employee wellbeing has fallen in priority for HR leaders in 2022 vs 2021. 

As employees continued to work remotely, studies began to unfold. As reported by PeopleManagement, a survey of 4,500 employees found that 59% would prefer to work remotely for the majority of their week at work. 

However, flexibility just isn’t enough anymore. And employees are making their voices heard on topics like burnout, poor mental health and more. The latest addition of worries people face is the rising cost of living. As prices skyrocket, so has the anxiety of employees who wonder whether they can afford to stay in their current job. 

All in all, it’s clear why wellbeing in the workplace has become a priority. For this reason, health and wellbeing must take centre stage, and be taken seriously by leaders. 

Out with the old employee benefits and in with the new 

Employee benefits of recent years have lacked impact, personalisation and wellbeing. For too long, perks in the workplace have just been a ‘nice addition’ to the employee experience, rather than a reason for choosing an employer. 

However, those times have long gone. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, workplace benefits have been turned upside down. It’s no longer reasonable to offer free pizza on a Friday and attract the best of talent. Leaders know just how difficult times are in finding amazing employees with plenty of skills. 

So, what employee benefits should you avoid in your pursuit of a healthier, happier and more talented workforce? Things like free office snacks or ping-pong tables may have some value for people, but they don’t offer immediate impact in either the short or long term

Ultimately, employee benefits of the modern workplace must have a visible impact on employees. They must be accessible, practical and to some extent life-changing.

Another common trait of the best incentives is a focus on wellbeing. As we’ve discussed above, health and wellbeing is a high priority for everyone, right now. Your benefits package must show to support employees in all aspects of their wellbeing, such as mental and physical wellbeing. 

Some examples of quality employee wellbeing benefits include flexible working, shorter days, longer breaks, unlimited holidays, mental health support, financial coaching, paid fitness classes and holistic wellbeing experiences – the list goes on. 

It’s these types of incentives that really drives personal and professional growth for employees. The kind that encourages them to stick around through the thick and thin, and much longer than they would with a weak benefits package.

Final note

If anything is certain in the workplace we know today, it’s that “employee wellbeing” is the new “employee benefits”. Leaders must take a stronger approach to support the personal lives of their people; an approach that’s personalised to individual needs. 

With all the uncertainty that looms large over the UK, right now, employers have to step up in order to retain their talent. The Great Resignation has only grown greater in the past several months, and many businesses still aren’t in a position, financially, to lose their best employees. 

Health and wellbeing can drive all kinds of success in the workplace, including higher performance, better retention rates and increased productivity – just to name a few. How will you support your team with an employee benefits package that supports their health and happiness?

Heka is an employee wellbeing platform offering access to thousands of experiences, products and services, and is co-founded by Alex Hind.

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