Working from home is here to stay. How can employee benefits support with employee health and wellbeing?
Nearly half of the working population in the UK is now working from home, and by 2023 two in five employees will embrace hybrid working.
However, this radical change has shifted the way professionals maintain a work-life balance. Which in turn is impacting their employee wellbeing, mental wellbeing and physical health.
Does your company have a long-term plan for hybrid working?
Many employees are relishing in the possibilities of flexible working, allowing organisations to rip off the metaphorical band aid of incorporating remote working into future policies, where previously such an approach may have been the exception, not the rule.
It does however mean that employers who had previously fallen behind on working-from-home procedures have been left scrabbling around to put clear strategies and programmes in place. This has created a large virtual gap for managing employee health, wellbeing and engagement - something companies are trying to navigate without much evidence or experience to back them up.
In the words of Dr Oliver Harrison, CEO of Koa Health:
"The current state of the nation’s mental health leaves not only our collective wellbeing and employee morale at stake, but also business productivity and ultimately our economic recovery. There’s never been a more important time for employers to invest in evidence-based, clinically-validated digital mental health tools that protect staff, reduce burnout, and increase employee productivity."
It’s important for companies to have a workforce wellbeing strategy, but what are the best types of strategies, especially in a new hybrid world?
How can you improve employee wellbeing in the new working world?
Research shows that while 80% of organisations believe worker wellbeing is important to their success over the next 12 to 18 months, only 12% have actually addressed or solved the issue with wellbeing initiatives. The reason? Companies are not ‘ready’ for the work to be done.
To offer some support, here are our recommended starting blocks for creating a strategy to look after your employees wellbeing:
Find out how your employees feel
Communication is essential when it comes to identifying how to improve your employees wellbeing - as well as their engagement, productivity and motivation levels. You need to see the world through your workforces eyes, and find out how they feel.
Internal surveys are a quick way to understand the wellness landscape, including health issues, social wellbeing and work-related stress. One-to-one and group sessions are also effective at encouraging employees to freely express their opinions, allowing you to cement what's really going on in their professional daily life.
Only then can you start to create wellbeing initiatives that foster wellness in your workforce - now, and in the future.
Encourage healthy working habits
Research shows that UK employees working from home have increased their hours by almost 25%, equating to an average of 2 hours extra spent at their desks every day.
Sally Sourbron, Senior HR Director EMEA at ServiceNow, recently expressed that while flexible working has its benefits, it has also created some bad habits. “In lockdown, you had no constants — apart from, maybe, work — and we had this reliance on work for social reasons. This means that work and life merged. There was no natural start or end to the day.”
Because of this it’s important your organisation resets its working-hours rules to meet wellbeing goals. Iron out any grey areas and express the importance of helping your employees identify when to close the laptop and stop.
This doesn’t however mean that the traditional 9am-5pm should come back. That working world is now in the past. Flexible working does have its benefits, and many of them are wellbeing benefits.
Make sure you set a wellbeing example
Setting a clear healthy work-life balance example is crucial. It’s no secret that employees follow leader and peer behaviours. If a manager is seen to be working late at night, that team will feel the need to follow suit and keep up.
OK, flexible working might mean that some managers and employees choose to tackle pressing tasks late at night or early in the morning - but putting in place an email or communication time rule can help overcome these challenges. For example, work can be completed outside the usual working hours, but emails or any other form of communication can only be sent between the hours of 8am - 6pm.
How employee benefits support employee wellbeing?
Introducing employee benefits packages and programmes into your wellbeing initiatives can encourage health, fitness and nutrition which also have an impact on overall mental health, energy and routine for those working from home, as well as in the office.
Two-thirds of UK workers actively sought help from their employer for mental health. physical health and wellbeing in 2021, according to research by Hive360. Not only were these requests for counselling, health and fitness advice, and GP and doctor services, but employees were seeking carer support and guidance for looking after an ill or elderly relative or friend at home too.
Studies continue to show that employees want their employer to care about their health and that they would stay with an employer who provides high-quality health resources. But in today’s world, the support professionals want stretches further than a traditional gym membership.
This is where wellbeing employee benefits can help.
What are wellbeing employee benefits?
Wellbeing employee benefits schemes no longer hold the same reference as they once did. Although still very pertinent to company offering, modern day employee benefits offer a more holistic approach of perks and include programmes such as Cycle to Work Schemes, additional holiday purchases or even initiatives that allow for employees to buy the tech they want.
Benefits that support your workforces wellbeing can play an extremely important role in defining what your employees and your teams mean to your business and how safe and valued they feel within it.
Top wellbeing employee benefits.
Employee benefits do not just act as a tool to support your employees wellness levels, they can support improving motivation through rewarding employees for their hard work over challenging times too.
Here are a few examples of Blackhawk Network’s modern day wellbeing employee benefits and the role they have in aiding a healthy, balanced workforce:
Cyclescheme is the UK’s most popular cycle to work benefit. It allows your employees to save from 25% - 39% on a new bike and accessories and spread the cost via salary sacrifice Employees have access to any bike they want, with a choice of over 2000 retailers to claim the scheme at.
With a behaviour change programme like Cyclescheme, you can nudge your employees to get into cycling and improve their overall health and fitness, whilst also allowing those commuting to the office a safer alternative than public transport.
Cyclescheme is a total cycle-to-work solution, it's who we are and what we do. Because of this we've gone the extra-mile with every aspect of our scheme design and service to offer an intuitive user experience with minimal admin.
What are the advantages of Cyclescheme?
- Free marketing portal with customised posters
- Free events support for all employers
- Freedom to ride - schemes over £1,000
- Cyclescheme's any bike guarantee
- Weekly, monthly and seasonal sales and offers
- Save-on-sale retailers - employees save twice
- Easy to access finance option available
Techscheme is the UK’s most desirable technology benefit and lets employees get the latest tech from Currys, through their employers. By spreading the cost across 12 payments from their salary, employees can own the products from the beginning and save between 2-12% on their purchases.
Even better, the scheme is not limited to just employees. Employees can also buy the latest tech for friends and family which provides a great option to buy those all-important birthday or Christmas gifts.
The scheme can hold a lot of value for employees who need a proper set up when working from home, or even noise-cancelling headphones to block out unnecessary distractions!
What are the advantages of Techscheme?
- It is relevant, your staff love it and are more loyal
- It upskills your workforce, increasing creativity and productivity
- Simple to set up and easy to manage
bYond Card is a Mastercard® prepaid card, that helps your employees’ pay go further. As a dedicated card for their everyday shopping needs, it acts a handy budgeting tool, while earning the cardholder money back every time it's used.
Available to use at a vast network of selected retailers, bYond Card can be a great way to allow employees to gain between 3% and 15% rebate on purchases. As a flexible benefit, employees can either top up their account manually, or they can sign up to have a chosen amount paid onto the card from their salary on a monthly basis.
56% of cardholders agreed that their card made them feel valued, loyal or engaged with their employer*
The initiative covers a majority of retail categories, promoting choice for the cardholder, such as:
- Food retailers
- Dining out
*889 Cardholders surveyed
Why are wellbeing employee benefits important?
Wellbeing employee benefits are crucial to an organisation’s survival. A robust benefits programme can boost employee engagement levels and harness a complete wellness strategy within your business. It can showcase to your employees that you genuinely care about their wellbeing, especially in the current climate, and can support in retaining talent. Happy and satisfied employees are more likely to work more efficiently, be more productive and take fewer sick days.
The Employee Benefit Research Institution found a direct correlation between employee satisfaction of a benefits package and job satisfaction. In fact, at the time of research, 82% of respondents who were extremely satisfied with their benefits package also cited that they were extremely satisfied with their job, versus just 4% who said they liked their benefits but did not experience any job satisfaction.
Implementing benefits such as Cyclescheme and Techscheme can make a significant difference to your employees’ overall health and wellbeing and can extend improvements in their:
- physical fitness and mental health
- financial wellbeing
- lifestyle choices, and
- work-life balance
Talking with an employee benefits specialist to learn more about the benefits packages and results your business is committed to providing can support you in creating a strategy that is not just geared towards a short term solution, but for the long-term.
Want to discuss how employee benefits can support your workforce’s wellbeing? Fill in the contact form on your right and we’ll be in touch to chat about the ways we can support your wellbeing strategy.