United Kingdom

Employers focus on emotional and financial wellbeing while Aon warns physical health should not be overlooked

There’s been a ‘significant shift’ in employer focus towards staff emotional and financial wellbeing, the latest UK Benefits and Trends Survey 2020 from Aon has revealed.

Workers talking and working

The report, now in its tenth year, identified several key trends across the employee benefits space among UK employers, which showed an increase since 2017 in the number of employers offering wellbeing strategies alongside physical wellbeing. 68 per cent of employers now have emotional wellbeing strategies in place in comparison to 41 per cent three years ago, while 51 per cent of employers now offer financial wellbeing strategies, up from 21 per cent in 2017.

Aon say emotional and financial wellbeing strategies were found to be the ‘least developed’ pillars of employee wellbeing in its 2017 UK Health Survey.

The 2020 survey also revealed that the majority of employer respondents to the survey (71 per cent) believe the employer is responsible for influencing employee health and change behaviours. 58 per cent said they ‘agreed’ while 13 per cent ‘strongly agreed’. In addition, 62 per cent agreed that financial wellbeing is the employer’s responsibility, with 48 per cent planning to implement relevant initiatives within the next twelve months.

A number of employers also said they had specific strategies in place to address certain health conditions including mental health (57 per cent), cancer (19 per cent), heart and cardiology conditions (13 per cent) and musculoskeletal conditions (24 per cent).

Commenting on the findings, Mark Witte, principal at Aon said: “There are many health, social and economic factors impacting employers’ decisions to strategically support staff wellbeing. By some margin, employers’ strategies are principally focusing on mental health, which is most likely testament to the surge of interest in the issue as well as an increased understanding of the impact on business performance.”

But he warned that the importance of physical wellbeing should not be overlooked, particularly as data continues to emphasize the impact of physical health on businesses. Writing in the report, Witte said physical health, is the “most established” pillar of wellbeing strategy, but despite this year’s growth, physical wellbeing initiatives in comparison to emotional and financial wellbeing has been “less significant.”

Witte said that while it was ‘encouraging’ that employers are focusing on emotional and financial wellbeing, it is “inarguable” that employers should be focusing on what their specific company data is telling them.

“We should not allow action relating to physical health to fall behind,” he added. “The impact of conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease can be devastating for employees and their families and presents a significant risk both financial and operationally for employers. Education and action addressing the key drivers of these conditions should be high on all employers list of priorities for 2020.”

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