Jackie Palmer: Do wellbeing perks really work?

At Freshfields, we are focusing on wellbeing and ways we can support working practices that suit everyone.

We have made a significant investment in our gym and restaurant facilities, introduced a wellbeing suite that offers free health assessments, launched an online portal to access personalised health advice and are offering psychological resilience courses. Our new facilities and services also include enlarged dentist and doctor surgeries, and an improved employee assistance programme and occupational health service.

For wellbeing benefits to ‘work’, we all need to engage on an individual level over the long term. Assessment of whether these benefits truly work will only be evident in the years ahead, but our on-site health campaigns have been well received so far. More than one-third of us in London (about 600) took part in a walk-to-work challenge over the summer. A similar number have tested their biometrics.

Wellbeing is not a soft issue. HR needs to get serious about the measures used to test success. Auditing organisational health, health risks and spend is a good starting point. Benefits providers need to work in partnership, not just in supporting planned wellbeing initiatives, but also in aligning the information they supply. It is only once they provide the same measures, at the same time intervals, using the same terminology, that we stand a chance of measuring success.

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At Freshfields, we are hopeful about the road ahead. These are exciting times in the wellbeing space. Alongside securing senior champions of the wellbeing cause, HR needs to prioritise the measurements that prove these benefits work.

Jackie Palmer is senior manager, compensation and benefits at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer