Four in five (80%) employers have increased their health and wellbeing support or employee benefits to adapt to the changing circumstances of their staff, according to new research conducted during January 2023 for GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector.
The research found that over the past 12 months, employees felt that their health and wellbeing had deteriorated mentally, physically, financially, and socially, with financial wellbeing being the area most impacted:
· 40% of employees felt that their financial health had deteriorated.
· 29% felt that their mental health had deteriorated.
· 28% felt that their physical health had deteriorated.
· 24% felt that their social health had deteriorated.
However, over the same period, employers themselves felt their responsibility had most increased for supporting the mental and social health of employees:
· 51% of employers felt increased responsibility for their employees’ mental wellbeing
· 51% felt increased responsibility for employees’ social wellbeing
· 49% felt increased responsibility for employees’ financial wellbeing
· 47% felt increased responsibility for employees’ physical wellbeing
As a result of this increased sense of duty, during the past 12 months, many employers have increased the provision of the health and wellbeing support or employee benefits, that they offer their staff.
In total, 80% of businesses have increased their support for health and wellbeing or employee benefits over the past 12 months. GRiD is pleased to see meaningful changes, including a quarter (27%) increasing their investment in new employee benefits to provide extra support, support being made available for more of the workforce (27%), and also extending support to family members (22%).
However, while GRiD believes that employers are right to adapt to changing circumstances, the industry body feels more could be done.
Twenty-four percent of employers have responded positively to employee requests for changes in health and wellbeing support, however three quarters (76%) have not. With financial wellbeing the area of most concern for employees, it would be good for employers to provide support here.
Similarly, 20% of employers reported that they have increased access to funds to pay for support directly, but unlike offering employee benefits, such as private medical insurance, or group risk benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness), funding support directly on a case-by-case basis can be expensive. It’s also difficult to budget for, as no employer can predict how many staff will need support in any given year or for how long that support will be required.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “A crystal ball would be hugely beneficial to help plan ahead for employees’ needs but in the absence of any ability to see into the future, employee benefits must be all encompassing to support all areas of health and wellbeing. This time last year, interest rates were still quite low and the full impact of the current cost of living crisis was not known and so it’s understandable that employers were not as focused on supporting financial wellbeing as they might be now.
“It’s important that employers do not try to second guess what employees need but listen to their current concerns. Many employee benefits, such as group risk products, are all inclusive in terms of the wellbeing support they offer. This means that no matter what happens within a business, or what external factors employees face, support is available across all pillars of health and wellbeing to ensure all staff have access to the comprehensive support they both need and deserve.”