Many organisations invest in the health of their staff through employee wellbeing benefits. The ultimate aim is to boost their bottom line – but when the benefits to business fail to materialise, what next?
There are a number of reasons why your investment in staff wellbeing may not be paying off. But, before being too negative, are you sure you’re assessing all the advantages that can be gained. For example, the benefits can include:
Workers who are healthy are able to work until later in life. So you get to hang on to the precious knowledge and skills they’ve accumulated over the years for a little longer.
Wellbeing benefits can show potential recruits that you’re the kind of employer that cares about their welfare. This can be the deciding factor when you’re competing to recruit the best.
Staff with higher levels of engagement can be up to 22% more productive than those with low engagement levels. Organisations with highly engaged staff also report lower absence rates, lower turnover of staff, and fewer safety incidents and problems with quality of work.
Healthier employees means they’ll have more energy for their work and they will take fewer sick days. Exercise is especially useful in increasing productivity because regular aerobic activity improves cognitive function. It changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills, and stimulates chemicals involved with the health of cells and the growth of new blood vessels.
Organisations that introduce health and wellbeing benefits record higher morale among employees. When staff morale is boosted, it has a positive impact on their work and they’re less likely to be absent.
If, after considering these benefits, you still feel your wellbeing programme could be failing, here are three possible reasons why:
1: Company culture
If your company culture isn’t conducive to health and wellbeing, your efforts are likely to fail. Wellbeing works best when all staff are actively participating and engaged with wellness programmes, and when they understand what it means to them.
Wellbeing is sure to fail in an environment in which working lunches and late finishes are the norm. Or when staff are faced with unhealthy choices in the canteen and vending machines are packed with junk food.
Change the focus to wellbeing by encouraging health and fitness through flexible working schemes that allow staff time to cycle to work or go for a walk at lunchtime, and by ensuring that employees are taking their full holiday entitlement.
A change in mind set must come from company leadership, so executives should take the reins to ensure that staff wellbeing is top of the agenda – and they’ll climb on board quickly when they realise what the business stands to gain from it.
2: Benefits … what benefits?
If nobody knows about your wellbeing benefits, take-up among your staff will be low, resulting in nothing more than a waste of resources. According to researchers from Cass Business School, poor communication about staff benefits leaves a huge hole in the pocket of UK PLC.
The study calculated that failing to communicate benefits to employees costs businesses £2.7bn annually through increased sickness absence and staff turnover. It concluded that even when companies have invested in good employee benefits, if they haven’t communicated to staff what they’re entitled to, they may as well not offer benefits in the first place.
If that sounds familiar, it’s time to start shouting about the benefits on offer to your employees.
3: The benefits being offered don’t fit the bill
From gym membership to pensions, everybody has different requirements from their benefits package.
A study by Benenden found that the benefits being offered by employers are failing to hit the mark with staff. Just 24% of employees said they were happy with their benefits – leaving more than three-quarters who feel companies should be doing more for them.
One of the biggest challenges of the traditional, one-size-fits-all approach to staff benefits is that it is no longer suitable for the modern workforce. For example, while younger generations rate gym membership highly as part of their benefits package, the figure drops in those aged 55+. And flexi time is preferable among employees aged between 35-54, yet those aged 18-24 were less enamoured with this perk.
The report highlighted a “disconnect between the benefits being provided to employees and the benefits they want and value”.
To make sure you reap the rewards of wellbeing initiatives, forget the universal approach and instead tailor benefits around workers’ needs, so that they – and you – get the most value from them. This means having a good understanding of your employees’ needs and what motivates them.
Flexible benefits can boost take-up, allowing you to cater to today’s multigenerational workforces.
Some steps to successful wellbeing
Squeeze the most out of your wellbeing efforts with these three steps.
1: Spend your wellbeing investment wisely
Focus on your objectives, such as whether you want to reduce absence rates or raise productivity, and offer benefits that are most likely to meet those objectives but also meet the expectations of your workforce.
When wellbeing benefits are difficult to access, for example, if staff have to fill out too many forms, it will put them off. Make sure you make it as easy as possible for time-pressed employees to enjoy the benefits that you offer so they can’t use the old excuse “I don’t have time”.
3: Talk it up
One of the most effective ways to ensure that wellbeing benefits work is by communicating them to employees.
Use every opportunity, not just the typical ways such as email, staff intranet or brochures that get lost at the back of the desk. This could include eye-catching posters, workshops or even giving them a taster of the benefits on offer – such as promoting physical activity in partnership with the local gym.
Get others talking about wellbeing, too – introducing health and fitness competitions among staff (as long as they don’t add to workers’ stress) can be a great way to build a buzz around benefits.
Gympass can help you gain healthy returns on your wellbeing investment. Contact the team today to find out how our local, low-cost gym membership scheme is helping businesses across the UK.