Onrec logo The Online Recruitment Resource

Half of UK office workers say their workplace has a negative impact on their wellbeing

Employers struggling to match benefits schemes with employee wellness goals

Half of UK employees say their workplace has a negative impact on their physical, mental and financial wellbeing according to the latest research from Thomsons Online Benefits.

However, the Global Employee Benefits Watch 2017/18, surveying over 2,000 office workers around the world, indicates that multinational organisations are not using benefits effectively to improve employee wellbeing and provide a positive workplace experience.  

Despite recent high-profile public campaigning, Thomsons’ data shows that UK employers are falling short of fully supporting mental health in the workplace. Almost 40% of employees cite improving mental wellbeing as a life goal, yet less than half of those (18%), feel that their benefits scheme supports this. The situation is similar for those wanting to get fit and healthy; 44% of employees are keen to do this, yet less than half of them (20%) say their employer is helping them to fulfil this ambition.

Luke Prankard, Practice Lead, Health and Wellbeing at Thomsons Online Benefits comments, “Keeping employees fit and healthy is business critical, but employers need to think beyond this and align their people and benefits strategies to promote holistic employee wellness, addressing employees’ mental, physical and financial health. Supporting employees in achieving their life goals will help hit each of these fundamental pillars, while providing a fantastic employee experience.

“Our data shows a clear relationship between wellbeing benefits and employee satisfaction with their scheme. Employees that say their benefits needs are met receive 76% more wellbeing initiatives and have 58% more life goals supported. This means they are twice as likely to recommend their employer to a friend; say they have a positive experience at work and be proud to work for their company. For employers, this means concentrating on the wellbeing benefits they are providing. Get these right and you’ll reap rewards in employee engagement, attraction and retention.”

It’s clear that employers are struggling to align benefits provision with employee needs, which is creating a disconnect between employees’ life goals and the ability of benefits schemes to support these. This disconnect is hitting younger generations particularly hard, as they tend to prioritise the life goals where there is the least benefits support.

Buying a house is a goal for over 40% of employees – and ranks highly at over 74% among 18-35s – yet only 4% feel that their benefits scheme supports this. With starter home prices rising faster than any other property market segment[1] and rents continuing to escalate[2], younger employees need all the help they can get – yet employers are three times less likely to be supporting younger generations in achieving their life goals. Instead, they continue to prioritise traditional benefits such as pensions, which are popular among older employees, but also more established with providers and employers – making them the ‘easy’ go-to choice.

Meanwhile, over 45% of employees cite ‘saving for a holiday’ and ‘work-life balance’ as life goals. Again, these are high priorities for those aged between 18 and 25 – but only 12% and 25% of employees respectively feel that their benefits schemes support these. With household debt in the UK at a record high[3] and one in four UK families having less than £95 in savings[4], employees are in a worse position than ever when it comes to saving for a holiday break – something that can contribute significantly to their sense of wellbeing. Employers are missing an engagement opportunity by not helping workers save for one of their key life goals.

UK employers are doing a better job of supporting those employees looking to save for retirement. This is a goal for over 50% of UK employees, and over 40% feel that their benefits scheme supports this. The picture is less rosy in the rest of Europe, where 60% aim to save for retirement, yet only 30% are supported to do so. There is an even greater opportunity for these employers to take the lead and offer more support for retirement saving.

Jack Curzon, Head of Scheme Design, at Thomsons Online Benefits, continues: “It’s not just about providing the relevant benefits – access and communication are also key and employers need to maximise technology and advances in digital communications to get this right. Employees who say that their benefits needs are met are 31% more likely to access them through a benefits portal. An intuitive online platform enables HR teams to generate insights on their employee base, see how they’re engaging with their benefits schemes and act on this insight to better meet their wellness needs. Technology also improves the overall employee experience. Single sign-on, mobile-first, consumer-friendly software is critical for engaging employees in their schemes as part of the digital workplace, and improving the overall perception of their employer.”

Please see here to download the full ebook.