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How HR can reap the wellbeing dividend in 2023

The pandemic may have come and gone, but the UK’s best HR teams are continuing to drive forward the employee experience through improved wellbeing offers.

Over the last few years, HR has had to become increasingly inventive in order to get, grow and keep the very best people for their organisation. One of the ways to do this has been a clear focus on their employees’ everyday experiences of their working lives.

Our latest research, among nearly 100 certified UK Top Employers (out of a total of more than 2,000 globally), shows that improving the employee experience is their highest people priority for 2023. So how, specifically, can this be delivered?

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The standout finding from our research gives a clear answer. Even though the pandemic has abated, those companies that are driving their wellbeing programmes faster and further are changing how their employees feel about them on a day-to-day basis.

This is an area in which the UK’s best HR teams seem to be moving faster than in the rest of the world across a range of wellbeing indicators.

Five in six (83%), for example, have a wellbeing champion in their workforce (versus a 55% average for the rest of the world), while over two-thirds (69%) now involve their employees in the design of their wellbeing offer (versus 58%).

What is it, then, that the very best UK HR departments are doing so well in this area? Our research shows a potent mix of prevention, cure, personalisation and inclusivity at the core of a great wellbeing experience.

On the preventative side, for example, HR at its best is offering mindfulness or meditation, or helping employees to cope with information overload, financial education and religious or spiritual facilities.

One Top Employer, Wipro, for example, has a wellbeing programme which is based on a three-point plan around mind, body and community, with an online platform for colleagues across the UK and Europe, to help them assess where they are on their wellbeing journey.

Another, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, now has an established team of wellbeing first aiders, one for every 50 of its UK employees, and is also rolling out wellbeing conversations training and workshops for all managers.

When an individual’s wellbeing sadly goes awry, the best businesses also move increasingly rapidly to offer not only employee assistance programmes, but also medical and occupational health professionals and other resources.

Computacenter, for example, not only has preventative wellbeing measures but also EAPs and its Health Hero GP support, amongst other things. Finally, personalisation and inclusivity are both key.

The former is clearly shown at Phillips 66, where employees receive a highly personalised wellbeing plan, based on their response to an online assessment. For the latter, Bentley Motors have an employee-led wellbeing network called 'BeAccessible' launched with the aim of supporting colleagues in all aspects of health and wellbeing.

There are so many ways in which enlightened HR teams can improve the everyday experiences of their employees. And this need not be the preserve of big businesses with deep pockets – any organisation can make a big difference to the wellbeing and performance of employees by seeing what other businesses tackle these issues.

And while wellbeing is far from the only way in which the daily experience of employees is being radically improved, it does seem to be a common factor in separating the best from the rest.

Androna Benadè is regional manager, UK&I at Top Employers Institute