Employee wellbeing high on HR agenda

A desire to provide support to all staff, encourage employee engagement and reduce absence has put employee wellbeing high on the agenda for HR in 2019, according to XpertHR research.

More than half of employers (54.4%) run informal employee wellbeing initiatives, while one-in-five (22%) has a formal programme in place. The majority of these formal employee wellbeing programmes (69.6%) have been in place for a year or more – demonstrating says XpertHR a high level of employer commitment but also that programmes have gained traction within organisations.

Among those employers that do not have an employee wellbeing programme in place, two-thirds plan to introduce one within the next 12 months.

Employers ranked cost and budget availability as the most important factor in deciding which employee wellbeing initiatives to implement. One third of employers (32.8%) allocate a specific budget for employee wellbeing activities. Among this group, the median annual spend per employee is £36.

In terms of the initiatives that have the most impact on employee wellbeing, two areas stood out: offering employee assistance programmes (EAPs) and sick pay above the statutory amount:

  • EAPs can be extremely powerful in terms of support for employees in all areas of their work and personal life. According to respondents, this was down to the fact that EAPs are confidential, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offer all-round help for both personal and work-related issues. HR practitioners felt that the programmes support the work that the HR function does on a day-to-day basis, and many referenced the fact that counselling through EAPs is available more quickly than through the NHS. But one blocker to employees accessing EAPs is a concern around what happens to the information they provide when they interact with the EAP provider. XpertHR comments that HR needs continuously to emphasise that it is confidential and be clear that no individual employee will be identified, and neither will any detailed information be made available to the employer that might identify any employee.
  • Offering more generous sick pay has a strong impact on wellbeing as it can help to address presenteeism, because employees feel financially able to take time off to recover when unwell.