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The future of wellbeing will have to look very different to the past

Research over the last 5 years from Lightbulb, (an independent research company) and now in conjunction with Love Your Employees, tells us that employers know that their employees would benefit from additional wellbeing support. HR benefits and rewards professionals have consistently indicated their desire to improve their employee benefits offering, but often putting that aspiration into action is difficult. However, innovative solutions such as a free Healthcheck app for employers means that improving employee wellbeing may not be as overwhelming as you think.

Each year, researchers interview 300 randomly selected HR benefit and reward leaders, to capture their opinions and perspective on benefit provision. Companies range in size from 30 to 70,000 employees, in a wide variety of industry sectors throughout the UK. In addition they supplement the research with desktop analysis to benchmark benefit provision for another additional 3000 UK companies. This comprehensive research has delivered insight on a variety of topics such as employee wellbeing, financial education, the impact of legislation and economic change.

The current pandemic situation has brought employee wellbeing to the forefront, (we are thinking here about both financial and health wellbeing) and undoubtedly Covid will shape findings going forward.

Previous years research shows that when employers were asked ‘Do you offer employees specific support with mental health?’, the ‘no’ return hovers around one third, approx. (35%) say no. This is concerning given the current climate. Of those that say ‘yes’ there is variety in the range of support offered. The figures change year on year, but on average 14% offer a helpline, 4% offer free counselling, 5% occupational health support, and the remaining offer EAP, or courses, or private doctor, or one to one support or a combination of some of the above. Ease of access to mental health support is one area where the benefits market has seen an enormous amount of innovation and change and something employers should look at again.

Thinking about employee financial wellbeing the Financial Contact Authority (FCA) reports that its pension scam team opened 24% more investigations in 2020 than the year prior. It seems incredible, when the world is coping with a ravaging pandemic that crime hasn’t taken a holiday during this crisis, but it hasn’t stopped. The FCA said its consumer scam hotline received approximately 9,000 calls per month between 1 January and 31 October last year, with 5.5% of those calls relating to retirement or pensions advice and/or products where they suspect unsuitable advice was provided.

In 2020 we asked employers ‘Is financial advice something you feel that your employees would value and benefit from?’, 96% said ‘yes. The results showed emphatically that the majority of employers know that their employees would benefit from financial education but the reality of offering this in  the workplace has been very low.

In general around 70% of employers say that do not offer specific pre-retirement guidance to those aged 55, which is also concerning giving the escalation in people in the last year opting for early retirement (which is unplanned) due to dramatic changes in circumstances. Employees in their mid-50s, could be considered a vulnerable group because of the important decisions they may need to make in relation to long term pension savings. This is another area where employers could do more, and often at no extra cost.

We have heard a lot about unprecedented times over the last year…. it’s true, we are in unprecedented times, what we did before won’t necessarily work going forward in this new world. We know company finances and personal finances are under strain, value for money is essential at this time for business, as is finding ways to help employees navigate the strains of furlough, sick pay, and increased costs of working at home which has also pressured family budgets.

We know many people are having to take mortgage holidays and working families are relying on emergency food. Although you may think your employees are fine in stable roles with you, you often have no idea what has happened to the rest of their household and what the impact will be on their overall family budget or on their mental health due to worry. Restructuring rewards and perks to squeeze more valued benefits for the same cost is a worthy activity for employers. Reviewing your communications around benefits and rewards to ensure they show where employees can go for help and including financial support routes such as debt helplines and citizen advice might be worth doing at this time.

Employers historically often faced significant problems sourcing and delivering benefit programmes for an increasingly diverse and demanding workforce, and we know that the last year has put the importance of employee wellbeing much higher up on their agenda. Many employers want to look at employee wellbeing for example, but don’t know where to start.

This is where innovative solutions can help. Love Your Employees free app for employers is a safe space where employers can visit, learn about topics and get information without being sold to constantly. It lets employers rate their existing benefits, review whether their package is delivering what it needs to, and it makes it simple to find the help or support they might need in future.

Love Your Employees Director, Elliott Smith said ‘We’ve built these tools for employers, to help them make decisions on the support they need. They are in control, they can easily find information and the right support, when they need it’’.

Improving employee wellbeing may not be as overwhelming as you think.

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    24 July 2024

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