Forty percent of global employers feel they’ve achieved a culture of wellbeing, according to a recent survey from HR and benefits consulting, administration and technology services provider Buck. A majority aspire to achieve a culture of wellbeing (81 percent) and only 10 percent said they don’t see any value in investing in wellbeing.
The annual survey, now in it’s 12th year, explores trends in employer-sponsored wellbeing programs, which initially focused on physical health. In the 2016 survey, Buck included financial wellness as a scope of employee wellbeing. The 252 respondents from this year’s study represented 5.22 million employees across 56 countries.
“Our survey results confirm that supporting employee wellbeing holistically is much more than a ‘nice to do’—it’s a core, competitive business need,” said Ruth Hunt, a principal in Buck’s engagement practice. “Our findings demonstrate that a failure to creatively invest in employee wellbeing can result in many adverse consequences for the success and sustainability of a business.”
The top three objectives for 2018 wellbeing strategies were improving employee engagement (84 percent), improving performance and productivity (83 percent) and attracting and retaining employees (75 percent). To reach these goals, there has been a concerted effort to improve physical, emotional and financial health. Globally, the top six areas targeted for improvement were: stress (95 percent), physical activity/exercise (95 percent), nutrition/healthy eating (94 percent), work/life issues (94 percent), obesity/weight management (93 percent) and depression/anxiety (93 percent).
For more than 10 years, physical health has received the most attention in global wellbeing strategies and it continues to be a source of focus. The top six current health offerings include EAPs (86 percent), biometric health screenings (74 percent) flexible-work policies (71 percent) on-site immunizations (69 percent) health-risk appraisals (69 percent) and tobacco-free workplaces (69 percent). The top five future health offerings include workplace health challenges or competitions (62 percent), stress-management or resilience-building programs (60 percent), workplace environment improvements (58 percent), online courses and training for healthy lifestyles (57 percent) and web or mobile decision-support tools (52 percent).
Financial priorities have also become an employer focus, the top three for 2018 were financial instability/inadequate financial protection (84 percent), financial distress (83 percent) and inability to retire (72 percent). As part of their ongoing wellbeing strategies, employers plan to expand their focus beyond physical health to include financial literacy and skills (22 percent), retirement and financial security preparedness (21 percent) and social connectedness (19 percent).
Another key trend in Buck’s survey was the rise in technology–either in use today or in plans to be implemented soon. The four tech categories were predictive analytics, incentive tools and tracking, comprehensive portal hubs and decision-support tools. More than half of the respondents already use decision-support tools and comprehensive portals (63 percent and 62 percent, respectively) where as incentive tools and tracking and predictive analytics are lagging (45 percent and 27 percent, respectively).
Creating a culture of wellbeing that centers on the entire person, not just their physical health, is key to recruiting and retaining talent and increasing employee engagement. The results of this survey highlight the relationship between whole-person wellbeing and improved productivity, job satisfaction and employee retention.
“A combination of stressors such as health challenges, relatively stagnant wages, heightened financial pressures and always-on technology are taking a personal toll on employees. Employers are now focusing their wellbeing programming accordingly,” said Hunt. “Wellbeing has become a popular catch-phrase, but the stressors are real and employers can actually see how employees’ wellbeing is impacting the bottom line.”