Employers plan to evolve health strategies

EXCLUSIVE: Almost two-thirds (69%) of employer respondents plan to develop their health and wellbeing strategies over the next two or three years, according to research by Towers Watson.

Its Health, wellbeing and productivity survey 2012-2013 found that 15% of respondents plan to significantly increase their support over the next two or three years.

The most common initiatives UK organisations plan to undertake over the next two or three years include increasing employee engagement (47%), creating a workplace culture of health (24%), improving the mental health of employees (22%), and improving employee awareness of their health (20%).

Where respondents are able to assess the health and wellbeing of their workforce, stress is reported as an issue for 29%, a lack of physical activity for 25%, and work-life balance for 24%.

The most common barriers that respondents face when trying to influence the health and lifestyle behaviours of their employees include: a lack of engagement (38%), lack of evidence on financial returns (32%) and a lack of senior leadership support (23%).

The research also found:

  • 34% of employees view the link between health and employee performance as essential to their health and wellbeing strategy.
  • To alleviate employee stress, 88% of respondents said they promote an employee assistance programme, 73% offer flexible-working options and 45% provide written guidance for employees.
  • 25% of respondents said they require providers to share data in order to track the delivery and measurement of benefits.

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Rebekah Haymes, senior consultant at Towers Watson, said: “While for many employers there remains plenty to achieve, a minority have been able to take a number of practical steps to link programmes to measured outcomes, to educate providers regarding their individual needs and understand the returns to the business.

“Given the strong association between effective health and wellbeing programmes and financial results found within our research, such steps should help organisations build a stronger business case for their health and wellbeing programmes.”