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Benefits focus shifts to supporting employees’ emotional and financial wellbeing

Mark Witte, principal - Aon

New research from Aon, a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions (NYSE: AON), shows that employers have increased their strategic focus on both emotional and financial wellbeing programmes, while physical wellbeing programmes have remained largely static.

Aon’s UK Benefits & Trends 2020 Survey shows that 51% of employers now have financial wellbeing strategies in place, up from 21% three years ago, while 68% have emotional wellbeing strategies, up from 41%. These were the least developed pillars of employee wellbeing when Aon asked organisations in its 2017 UK Health Survey.

This year’s survey also shows that 71% percent of employers either agree or strongly agree that they have a responsibility to influence employee health and change behaviours. They also have specific strategies to address particular health conditions, with 57% having a strategy for mental health, 19% for cancer and 13% for heart and cardio, while 24% have a strategy for musculoskeletal conditions.

A significant 62% of respondents also believe employee financial wellbeing is their responsibility, with 48% of companies planning to implement initiatives in the next year, predominantly focusing on seminars (78%) and communications (77%). Products were less likely to be implemented, with 38% of companies planning to do so.

Mark Witte, principal at Aon, said: “There are many health, social, and economic factors impacting employers’ decisions to strategically support staff wellbeing. “By some margin, employers’ strategies are principally focusing on mental health, which is most likely testament to the surge of interest in the issue as well as an increased understanding of the impact on business performance. However, the low number of employers with defined strategies for other health conditions seems at odds given their prevalence and impact.”

Mark Witte continued: “If we acknowledge the impact of musculoskeletal conditions on private medical insurance spend or working days lost, or the considerable impact that cancer and heart-related conditions can have both financially and emotionally for a firm, then a business case can surely be built to put in place strong strategies which focus on education, prevention and behavioural change. It is incredibly encouraging that employers are focusing on emotional and financial wellbeing, but it’s inarguable that they focus on what their specific company data is telling them”.

The Survey also shows that the most common data sets used by organisations largely focus on employees already in a state of poor health and needing access to treatment or support.

Mark Witte advises: “We advise employers to use a wide range of company-specific data to drive meaningful corporate health and wellbeing strategies to get the best chance of improvements and value”.

Employee assistance programmes and data/ management information is accessible as standard from most quality services. This is used by 54% of companies to inform and drive their health and wellbeing strategy. Currently, 53% use absence data – which has been a consistent cornerstone of health and wellbeing analytics. Data sources which focus on behaviours, such as health screening data (11%) or flexible benefit choices (24%) remain very much underutilised.

Mark Witte advises: “Data sets reflecting the full end to-end health and wellbeing cycle, from prevention and education through to long-term support, will allow for further segmentation to help refine a company’s benefits and engagement strategy”.

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