In a time when burnout at work keep rising, stress levels are at its highest and unhappiness spread around like a silent disease, it is important to slow down a bit and think what really matters. After all, there are things - like healthcare, motivation, our status at work, what we eat, etc - that shouldn't go unnoticed if we are to achieve a certain level of wellbeing at our work, and to a further extent in our life. That's why HSC, the critical illness support specialists, have launched a new trends report for Summer 2019 detailing the significant rise in ‘wellbeing’ as an employee benefit. Included in the guide, the 10 specific employee benefits on trend for Summer 2019 are
1. Virtual healthcare
Digitalisation of the healthcare system is a win-win for all. By empowering employees to better manage their health and providing faster access to health information, will help vulnerable employees stay at work. We’re starting to see smart tech move into intelligent tech – this is the future. Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) in conjunction with machine learning to produce real time, predictive analysis, or in this case, diagnosis, symptom management and prescriptions. Chatbots, telehealth counselling and medication tracking are becoming the norm for when you are health plan shopping.
2. Financial wellbeing
A buzzword in the employee benefits space for some time – but what’s next? Financial stress can have a significant impact on employees’ mental health, leading to signs of depression and anxiety. It is clearly a benefit that will stick around, but companies should look to include other personalised options too, such as health savings accounts, fertility benefits and student loan repayment.
The phenomenon of employee-carers already exists – it’s time for more employers to get on board. It’s natural for employees feel a sense of obligation to provide eldercare or longer-term support to a person with a health condition. Juggling both work and caregiving responsibilities is a stressful challenge for employees, with a tendency to sacrifice their own health over others. Offering something more tangible such as, providing first aid training or a carer support network at work demonstrates how much you care as an employer. A big trend on the way is caregiver leave, which allows employees to take a set amount of paid leave each year to support relatives with serious health illnesses.
4. Workplace stress reduction
Stress affects employees mentally, emotionally and physically, having a knock-on effect on staff absences, burn-out and motivation. It’s no wonder businesses are trying to tackle stress in the workplace. Considerations could include relaxation courses, onsite gym, games rooms and internal activity clubs. As more businesses begin to appreciate stress management, it will form a key part of business employee wellbeing strategy in the coming years.
5. Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)
Often the first point of contact for employees seeking support. To keep up with employees’ evolving needs, it is likely that more clinical services will be introduced, as well as access to more concierge services for example meals on wheels, sleep coaching, childminders and pet sitters. Although the cost of EAPS may increase for employers in the future, we will also see a rise in adoption and usage as it becomes more relevant and personal for employees.
Employees spend a good chunk of time at work, therefore it’s not surprising that they consume a third of their calorie intake whilst at work. Next year, we will see companies take healthy breakfasts and fruit bowls to another level. Whether incorporated through an EAP or making available through internal portals, employees could have access to personalised dietary programmes, water reminders, energy monitoring apps and nutrition podcasts tailored for chronic diseases.
7. Disease management
Most businesses focus on health and wellbeing programmes to help their employees get fit and stay healthy. But it’s time to bend the trend and focus on supporting chronic conditions. This could involve plug-and-go modules tailored to individual workforces, for example mental health, cancer or musculoskeletal disorders. By helping employees to better navigate the healthcare system, they are more likely to feel happy, supported and well informed. Watch this space in 2020!
8. Closed for lunch
Restricting access to connected work devices outside of working hours stops employees checking emails late at night or working through lunch, encouraging a better quality of down-time. Organisations are cranking up flexible working by offering some employees fully flexible hours to better balance their work and personal lives. This is more than just a work-from-home culture, using technology at the fore to completely re-imagine the working week. It won’t be long until paw-ternity leave is introduced through flexible working or paid leave.
AI-driven technologies are already transforming the HR landscape, from recruitment and training, to employee management. AI shouldn’t replace people in HR, but remove the administrative burden, improve the employee experience and inform business strategy. Chatbots are coming to employee benefits to enrol and onboard new joiners in an agile and personal way. In conjunction with AI, employees could get quick advice on which benefits are best for them, with predictive recommendations each year.
10. Active workplace
There’s been a massive boom in standing desks, treadmill desks and meetings on the move with a ‘talk and walk’ culture. Other ways to reduce stress and improve fitness include company or team step challenges, bike to work and paid volunteering leave. Businesses should utilise gamification to keep these initiatives fresh by incorporating league tables, virtual teams, competitions and rewards for completing fitness and nutrition targets. Tim Warren, Commercial Director, HSC said,
“We’re seeing an upsurge in employers embracing wellbeing strategies and taking a more holistic approach when it comes to employee benefits. This is great for employees, and not just for obvious reasons. Employers are on the lookout for practical solutions that really do help employee’s lives. This is a ‘purple-patch’ in employee benefits; a sort of pool of innovation which is creating new and exciting packages that would not have existed a few years ago.”
The employee benefits landscape is certainly being driven by employees, in particular, the health conscious, tech-savvy generation coming through. It won’t be long until employee wellbeing becomes an employee expectation, not a perk. When planning for your employee wellness programs, it is best to partner with a corporate wellness provider like Zevo Health to ensure a quality program created by experts.