Research conducted as part of the CIPD and Simplyhealth’s Health and wellbeing at work report in 2021 demonstrated how the Covid pandemic accelerated activity on employee wellbeing, however, in 2022’s research, there are already signs that the focus on health and wellbeing has dipped. The number of HR respondents who agree that wellbeing is on senior leaders’ agendas has dropped from 75% to 70%, while the proportion who believe senior leaders encourage a focus on mental wellbeing through their actions and behaviour is down from 48% to 42%.
Whilst the pandemic and the current climate serve to illustrate the need for effective employee wellbeing interventions, they’ve also had a substantial part to play in depleting the resources available to invest in such interventions. Employers who invested in ‘the full wellbeing package’ during the pandemic but now operating on a shoestring will inevitably struggle. The way forward? Identify those aspects of the wellbeing provision that add the most value – an assessment that will vary from organisation to organisation. Here are a few points to consider:
Low cost resources
Low cost resources Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) enable employers to outsource some elements of employee wellbeing, giving staff access to services that can help with problems that might be impacting their work. Depending on the contract, these might include counselling, virtual GPs, incident and legal advice. And the reality is this service isn’t expensive. However, make sure this isn’t just a ‘tick box’ to wellbeing – if it’s not used it’s not adding value! Another option is Benefits Cloud, which is available at no cost to charities / not for profits and micro businesses (5 or fewer employees). With discounts, deals and special offers – all aimed at financial, physical and mental wellbeing – it’s a great way to get started.
Sharing if you’re in a shared office block or business park, why not team up with your neighbours for wellbeing workshops or fitness classes for example. Not only does this increase the budget, but also encourages people to form new relationships which is an essential and often overlooked aspect of feeling well,
Equip Line Managers
We know line managers play a pivotal role in supporting employee wellbeing. If they are approachable and confident to have sensitive conversations about health, and can signpost helpful resources and policies where needed, their teams are likely to perform better and remain in work. The CIPD report highlighted that the majority of organisations look to line managers to take responsibility for staff absence, yet only 38% of respondents agreed that line managers are confident to have sensitive conversations about health and signpost people to expert sources of help when needed. Only 29% believe line managers are confident and competent to spot the early warning signs of mental ill-health. A report by Mental Health First Aid England found that 48% of all employees had no wellbeing check-in from their employer in the past year.
As stated above line managers have a significant role to play, but encouraging colleagues to support each other, be it in small, organised groups or more generally across the workforce, will further drive a feeling of wellbeing. Examples might include a general wellbeing focus group, a menopause network group or company wide sessions on topics from mindfulness to nutrition.
Getting a wellbeing policy to ‘land’ well and really come to life within an organisation can be a challenge, especially with colleagues who work remotely. Finding ways to retain the social aspects of working life, whether colleagues work remotely or not, can play a role. Bringing people together so they can have a laugh, or even ‘normal’ conversations has a vital role in promoting happiness at work. Inclusive team outings are another way that don’t need to break the bank. Wellbeing isn’t always about specific interventions – the role modelling of senior leaders and positive cultural impact of sustained behaviours and activities shouldn’t be under-estimated.
Having a dedicated space for wellbeing on a staff intranet or HR platform can make accessing the support that’s available much easier – everything in one place so it can be accessed easily and quickly when required. If people want to engage with it they can – if they don’t, they won’t! For businesses who’s people have less opportunity for accessing content online, a staff booklet or magazine might be another option.
Employee health and wellbeing in numbers:
This year’s CIPD and Simplyhealth Health and wellbeing at work report also revealed that…
- 51% of organisations take a strategic approach to employee wellbeing, while 36% are much more reactive than proactive.
- As in previous years, mental health is the most common focus of wellbeing activity. Access to counselling services and employee assistance programmes (EAP) remains the most common wellbeing benefits provided. Financial wellbeing remains the most neglected area.
- 56% of employers include health and wellbeing provision for working parents/carers of children and 49% for bereavement, to a large or moderate extent.
- The vast majority of organisations offer some form of health promotion benefit. 71% are encouraging employees to take up vaccinations (for example, for Covid-19) and 53% offer free flu vaccinations, at least for some groups of staff. Free eye tests are also commonly provided as in previous years.
- Only 52% of respondents believe their organisation is effective in tackling workplace stress or in identifying and managing the mental health risks arising from Covid-19 (48%).