UK employers feel more responsibility for employee health and wellbeing, but strategic action doesn’t align: Aon Benefits and Trends Survey 2022
- 95 percent of employers acknowledge they have a responsibility for the Health and Wellbeing of employees
- Most employers have no formal Health and Wellbeing strategy
- Signals show employers want to be better informed with employee Health and Wellbeing insights
Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm, has released research showing that UK employers feel far more responsibility for employee Health and Wellbeing, yet formalised strategic action remains unchanged in the last year.
Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends Survey 2022 shows a significant increase in the last year in the number of employers that strongly agree they have a responsibility for the Health and Wellbeing of their employees, rising from 20 percent in 2021 to just over half of all respondents (51 percent) in 2022. Forty-four percent agree they have a responsibility, and just 5 percent disagree or have no view.
Conversely, only 44 percent of employers have a formalised Health and Wellbeing strategy, although 32 percent plan to have one within the next 12-18 months, remaining unchanged from last year. Additionally, 70 percent don’t have a dedicated budget for a Health and Wellbeing programme, just 8 percent measure return on investment of their Health and Wellbeing programmes, and less than half (46 percent) have an executive sponsor for their Health and Wellbeing strategy.
Mark Witte, principal – health and risk, Aon, said: “This stand-out statistic of 95 percent of employers agreeing they have a responsibility for their employees’ Health and Wellbeing is the most notable shift from previous years’ surveys. It is easy to draw connections to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the heightened awareness of ill-health, but the word ‘responsibility’ is important. Given the acceptance that the employer has a role to play in supporting employee wellbeing, it is disappointing that this year’s research shows no change in terms of the number of employers with a formal strategy in place or planning to do so in the near future”.
The survey shows, however, that those with a formal wellbeing strategy have dedicated support for emotional and mental wellbeing (100 percent) and physical wellbeing (97 percent), while 75 percent provide structured financial wellbeing support. Social wellbeing is an increasing priority for employers (62 percent), highlighting their awareness of the importance of positive human connections and the growing societal issue of loneliness.
Another significant shift from last year’s survey is double-digit percentage increases across all data sets when respondents were asked what company-specific data analytics are being used to inform and drive their corporate Health and Wellbeing strategies. Data is being collected from a variety of sources, including Employee Assistance Programme utilisation (75 percent), employee engagement surveys (68 percent), absence data (62 percent) and occupational health (OH) data (52 percent), as well as medical, income protection, life and critical illness data (42 percent).
Witte added: “Just 13 percent of employers have said they do not use health data analytics to inform their wellbeing strategy, which is a clear and positive signal that most employers want to be better informed and have access to more detailed insights to help them make better decisions. While the research shows greater activity around employee wellbeing, a strategic approach is critical to creating focus and achieving demonstrable results to build a resilient workforce.
“The strain placed on human resources teams over the past 18 months is undoubtedly a factor in not seeing greater progress, as priorities and resources have been focused elsewhere. However, with investments potentially supporting other key objectives, securing budget, targeted condition management and C-suite sponsorship, it is recommended that employers consider ways to elevate health and wellbeing on their organisation’s agenda.”
Aon’s annual survey shows trends in employer benefits strategies, highlighting issues experienced by employers and employees. In its 12th year, the survey took into account the experiences of 253 HR, employee benefit and reward professionals from across the UK in a variety of sectors. Seventeen percent of respondents stated their organisation employs more than 5,000 people; 33 percent employ between 1,001 and 5,000 people; 13 percent employ 501 to 1,000 people; 10 percent employ 251 to 500 and 27 percent employ fewer than 250 people.
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