66% think flexibility will better support staff wellbeing

wellbeingTwo-thirds (66%) of UK office employees said more flexibility around how they work would better support their physical and mental wellbeing, according to research by health insurer Vitality in partnership with CBI Economics.

The survey was conducted among 352 C-Suite executives and 2,005 office-based employees, and found that 22% want the ability to choose the health and wellbeing support that best suits their age and life-stage.

In addition to wellbeing, 38% said the flexibility to take a hybrid approach to office and home working would allow them to be their most productive.

Meanwhile, 82% said their employers have a greater responsibility to support physical and mental wellbeing since the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, and 44% wanted their business to do more to meet their needs.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of businesses said they have made supporting employee physical and mental health and wellbeing a greater priority since the pandemic, with 42% increasing financial investment into corporate health and wellbeing by up to 20%, and 37% planning to increase investment further over the next year. However, 28% admitted that they do not currently measure employee health and wellbeing at all.

Seven in 10 (69%) businesses cited increased productivity as a main motivating factor for introducing or evolving their health and wellbeing policies, while 52% pointed to staff recruitment and dealing with attrition following the pandemic.

Almost three-fifths (59%) admitted to finding tailoring support to meet differing needs challenging, while 32% found it difficult to introduce health and wellbeing support for a hybrid workforce. One-quarter (24%) said employee health and wellbeing was a critical business risk.

Neville Koopowitz, chief executive officer of Vitality UK, said: “What is clear is that there is no magic solution, no one-size-fits-all approach. It requires the right technology and data to understand the make-up of your business and the individuals within it, so that you can formulate the optimal employee engagement strategy.

“It also needs to be prioritised at the very top of a business to foster a deep-rooted commitment to health and wellbeing at all levels. This is both a challenge and opportunity for business leaders. Get it right, and businesses will unlock greater productivity and retention.”

Jordan Cummins, health programme director at CBI, added: “For many, the world of work looks markedly different in the wake of the pandemic, with firms and employees working together to hone their own hybrid futures. Yet flexible working is just one facet of a growing business focus on wellbeing, with employee health increasingly now regarded as a sensible investment rather than a cost to be managed.

“With employee expectations undergoing a similarly seismic shift, firms which fail to evolve their health provision risk being left behind by more proactive competitors. There are big prizes on offer for companies which develop the right package for their workers. It can be easier to recruit and retain staff, job satisfaction rises while sickness absences decrease – and there are productivity gains too. This makes good health both a critical pillar of business success and a key driver of economic growth and societal prosperity.”