Aon is urging employers to take a more targeted approach to improving employee wellbeing, in order to secure the best outcomes.
In a newly published report, Aon says in recent years there has been an significant increase in awareness about employee wellbeing, and the effect this can have on productivity.
It points out that 95 per cent of employers see a correlation between between employee health and performance and believe they have a role in trying to educate and improve poor lifestyle behaviours.
However it goes on to point out that less than half of these employers are implementing a defined health strategy, that also takes into account factors such as an ageing population, multigenerational workforces and employees increasingly working into their later years due to lack of retirement savings.
In this report Aon says it is important that employers understand the business rationale for adopting any wellbeing programme, in order to maximise benefits, reduce costs and measure returns.
This is backed up by Aon’s Benefits & Trends Survey which highlights how few employers have a specific strategy in place to address conditions that affect their workforces. There is also a challenge to increased expenditure on the early stages of health issues to be in line with that spent on curing conditions. Just over a quarter (26 per cent) of employers say they focus on providing education, but only 8 per cent have resource for detection.
Employers are more focused when it comes to access to treatment (30 per cent) or long-term support (30 per cent). But the report shows there is a shift in focus in employers’ strategies, with 80 per cent now looking to improve awareness and education.
It states that employers who ignore the outcomes of poor employee wellbeing create challenges that link to poor health behaviours and chronic medical conditions. These manifest in different ways, including increased absenteeism and presenteeism, reduced productivity, increasing claim costs, poor financial wellbeing and general disengagement.
Aon principal Mark Witte says: “In recent years, there has been a significant increase in awareness about employee wellbeing – for physical, financial, emotional and social health. Given the increased awareness, as well as the impact and volatility on benefit spend associated with health conditions such as cancer, organisations are advised to understand the key reasons to support employee wellbeing.
“Whether it’s a tick box exercise or putting employee health at the heart of the business, understanding data means it is possible to define key performance indicators, help to avoid volatile costs, better understand results or create return on value, so that employee health supports overall company wellbeing.”
He adds: “Our advice is to use data to analyse the issues that are unique to an individual business, then to ensure full consideration is given to four key stages of wellbeing: prevention and education, detection and early intervention, access to treatment and long term support. The mantra ‘prevention is better than cure’ holds true in employee benefit programmes”.