Richard Morris, CEO, IWG UK

Member Article

Employee wellbeing: hot topics in 2020

A competitive salary alone is no longer enough to attract and retain top staff. Instead, workers now expect companies to offer packages which support their wellbeing and lifestyle requirements too.

According to the Workplace Culture Trends report for 2018, 86% of millennials said they would consider taking a pay cut in order to work at a company that offers packages which suit their values and lifestyle. Such perks include access to healthcare, gym memberships and parental leave. And companies are listening.

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans report that more than nine in ten companies around the world offer staff at least one form of wellness benefit, and more than three in five have an allocated ‘wellness budgets’. What’s more, these budgets are expected to increase by 7.8% in the coming years and, according to Deloitte, the corporate wellbeing market as a whole will be worth $11.3 billion in 2021.

The term ‘wellbeing’ is a broad one and can cover just about any aspect of an employee’s life. So, which specific areas are companies focusing on in 2020?

Stress and Mental Health Already a hot topic, the mental health of employees will continue to dominate wellbeing agendas. It’s estimated that stress and lack of work-life balance support costs employers in the UK between £33bn-£42bn per year. Furthermore, a study by the Britain’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that 80% of employees with mental ill health in the UK struggle to concentrate, 50% are potentially less likely to be patient with clients or customers and 37% are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues. It’s clear why businesses will address these issues in 2020.

A good example of an organisation tackling mental health among its workforce is Transport for London (TFL), the government body responsible for transport links in the UK capital. An employer of around 27,000 people, TFL offers tailored mental health support in the form of counselling, trauma services and a telephone helpline offering emotional support to employees.

Financial support Employers are also set to offer more financial wellness support in 2020. According to research carried out by YouGov in 2018 on the behalf of Business in the Community and Mercer, 90% of young people in the UK say their mental health is affected by the cost of living and a quarter of all employees are struggling to make ends meet. What’s more, the PWC Employee Fit and Wellness Survey also revealed that employees stressed about their finances are absent from work for twice as many days as those who were not stressed, again impacting productivity and a company’s ability to operate at full capacity.

This is an issue that businesses have begun to address in recent years. Salary Finance UK published its ‘The Employer’s Guide to Financial Wellbeing 2019-2020’ which encourages HR departments to adopt financial wellness practices through resources such as education toolkits and debt relief plans. However, according to research done by Thomsons Online Benefits, there are still a number of barriers preventing businesses from offering financial wellness programmes to employees. For example, almost one in four companies are concerned about the risk of getting too involved in their employees’ financial lives, 20% think that it’s not their role to do so and 24% worry about the costs of offering such support.

Despite these concerns, there’s been a clear upward trend of businesses offering financial wellbeing packages to their employees as they continue to recognise the impact financial worry has on their wellbeing.

Flexible working As employees look to achieve greater work-life balance, they are increasingly seeking work with businesses that offer flexibility. This has become so important to employees that the latest IWG Global Workspace Survey found 80% of workers in the UK would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working, with 37% saying that they believe official working hours should include time spent on their journey, as this does not constitute ‘free time’ in their day.

As a result of this demand, in the past ten years, 85% of businesses have introduced a flexible workspace policy, or are planning to adopt one. However, a number of companies still have reservations about flexible working with 60% saying that changing the organisational culture is the main barrier to implementing a flexible workspace policy and four in ten (41%) say that fear of how flexible working may impact the overall company culture is the biggest obstacle.

Employee wellbeing in 2020 The employee wellbeing market has grown significantly in recent years with HR departments continuing to identify effective ways of building a happy and motivated workforce. This growth shows no signs of slowing up in 2020 with employee mental health, financial wellbeing and flexible working all expected to become integral parts of staff wellbeing packages.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Richard Morris, CEO, IWG UK.

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