A recent study conducted by employee benefits technology company Zest has unveiled a significant surge in employee demand for wellbeing benefits in the workplace.
As the world prepares to mark World Mental Health Day on October 10th, this research underscores the mounting importance of wellbeing benefits as a top priority for the workforce.
The study found that a remarkable 83 percent of businesses in the United Kingdom have witnessed a surge in requests from employees for enhanced wellbeing benefits. In response to this growing demand, more than seven in ten businesses (71%) have introduced a “Head of Wellbeing” role or its equivalent.
These designated positions are crucial for engaging with employees on their wellbeing needs, as an overwhelming 89 percent of employers reported that their workforce is increasingly inclined to discuss wellbeing matters at work.
Room for improvement
Despite this increased focus on employee wellbeing, there is still considerable room for improvement. Shockingly, less than a fifth (19%) of businesses currently offer their employees a dedicated wellbeing allowance as part of their benefits package.
This reluctance to invest in wellbeing benefits could have severe consequences for businesses. In a highly competitive hiring landscape, companies risk losing out on top talent if they fail to meet the demands of their workforce and enhance their wellbeing benefits packages.
Even though 82 percent of businesses have increased their investments in wellbeing benefits, the study reveals that 57 percent of employers admit that employee wellbeing is currently at an all-time low. This underscores the urgent need for employers to further develop their wellbeing packages to better address the evolving needs of their workforce.
Among the wellbeing benefits offered by UK employers, paid mental health leave stands out as the most popular, with nearly a quarter (24%) of businesses providing this benefit. Other frequently offered options include cycle-to-work schemes (23%), mindfulness programs (21%), and menopause support (17%).
How can you align benefits packages with your workers’ evolving needs?
Matt Russell, CEO at Zest, emphasised the importance of employers aligning their benefits packages with the evolving needs of their workforce: “Employers not investing in their benefits packages will struggle to keep pace as the wellbeing revolution continues to accelerate. They risk being left behind by competitors and could face a real struggle to attract and retain key talent if they don’t listen to the demands of their workforce.”
He also highlighted the significance of wellbeing benefits in supporting employees during challenging times, saying, “Many people struggled with their mental wellbeing during Covid, and then the cost of living crisis took a toll on their financial wellbeing – employers need to ensure that their employee benefits packages are offering the right tools to support both.”
Furthermore, Russell acknowledged the positive trend of appointing Heads of Wellbeing or similar roles within organisations, noting that these individuals play a critical role in ensuring that employees have access to the support and remuneration they need during challenging times.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.