Wellbeing programmes not aligned with employee needs

Connecting benefits programmes with wider strategies around wellness can be key to promoting engagement

Employers are failing to align their wellbeing programmes with their employees’ needs, according to research from Thomsons Online Benefits.

The Employee Benefits Watch report found that while half (50%) of employees would prefer an allowance to support their wellbeing, only 4% of UK employers offer this. Three-quarters (76%) have not even considered it. Additionally, while 65% of employees want broad financial support only 7% of employers offer it. Seven in 10 (70%) want income protection, but only 35% offer this.

When it came to what they hoped to achieve from their benefits programme, four in five (80%) employers cited improved engagement. ‘Wellness pots’ that allow employees the flexibility to choose benefits that work for them were found to be particularly effective, with those offering them seeing a 23% rise in engagement on average.

Matthew Gregson, ?SVP of data and analytics at Thomsons Online Benefits, highlighted the importance of employers aligning their benefits programme with their overarching people strategy, including wellbeing.

“Employers that offer the latest in wellness support will have around three times as many employees who are extremely engaged in their company,” he said. “These employees will perform better, and make a greater contribution to business productivity. Therefore aligning benefits strategy with people strategy is an absolutely critical step in giving the right package to employees and getting the most back from them.”

Jean-Christophe Fonfreyde, head of reward at Wellcome Trust, said that such an approach had worked at his organisation. “At Wellcome we support employees across four wellness pillars – physical, mental, financial and environmental,” he said. “Our approach covers every stage of employee wellness, from prevention to detection to rehabilitation, and understands that all are inextricably linked. Financial worries, for example, may have an adverse effect on an employee’s mental and physical health.

“Taking a connected approach to wellness is vital in addressing the root causes of problems, as well as symptoms. This is why at Wellcome we aim to provide a range of benefits to meet the commitments of our wellness pillars, such as an on-site gym, access to a nutritionist, pension clinics and a network of mental health first aiders.”