43% of executives say flexibility critical for engagement

engagesBritish business leaders consider flexible working to be more important for employee engagement and wellbeing than salary, research has revealed.

Of 54 UK-based board level executives polled for Bupa Global, 43% said flexible working was the most important factor for engaging staff and looking after their wellbeing, compared with 35% who chose competitive remuneration.

The health insurer’s second Executive Wellbeing Index 2021 report found that six in 10 organisations were already offering hybrid working practices and a further two in 10 intend to start in the next year.

Other factors cited by business leaders as important for driving employee engagement and wellbeing included enhanced employee wellbeing packages with bigger budgets; empathy and understanding from management and other employees; clear diversity and inclusion strategies; and greater investment in mental health and wellbeing.

The findings also highlighted that board level executives are upping mental health and wellbeing resources to help keep employees happy and healthy, with 35% already offering private medical insurance covering mental health, and a further 30% planning to add it in the coming year.

In addition, some businesses revealed they will be increasing their wellbeing support budgets by around 20% to pay for a raft of initiatives such as creating new roles focused on mental health; upskilling existing HR and management-level staff; paid mental health sick days; and private medical insurance with mental health cover.

Anthony Cabrelli, managing director of Bupa Global, said parents, carers and those with accessibility issues have often lost out in the jobs market, but businesses are now appreciating all they have to offer.

He explained that flexibility in the form of hybrid working and homeworking have opened doors to recruitment of a more diverse range of talent.

“With challenging times ahead, it’s important that businesses also continue to provide meaningful support for their employees’ physical and mental health,” Cabrelli said. “Personalised, digital resources and programmes should be available to employees when and where they need them.”