Employee wellbeing: hot topics in 2020

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 the EU €20bn per year, Australia ($30bn), Canada ($12bn) and US ($300bn) through reduced productivity. 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 also estimated that in the UK alone, mental ill health costs employers between £33bn-£42bn per year, so it’s clear to see why businesses will continue to 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 metal 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 Salary Finance, in the US, almost half of US employees are worried about money. 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, with figures from Bank of America’s 2019 Workplace Benefits Report showing that twice as many companies offer financial wellbeing support today (53%) compared to four years ago (24%). However, according to research done by Thomsons Online Benefits, there are still a number of barriers preventing businesses from offering financial wellbeing 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 83% of workers around the world would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working, with 54% saying that having a choice of work location is more important to them than working for a prestigious company.

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 over a third (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.

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