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Only 44% of UK employers have a comprehensive wellbeing strategy

Only 44% of employers have a formal wellbeing strategy, despite significant investment in health and benefits by employers. In addition, 22% said they did not intend to have a strategy within the next 12-18 months.

That’s according to Aon’s UK Benefits & Trends Survey, also showed that only 9% of employers are actively measuring the return on investment from their wellbeing programmes, despite it being a crucial way to assess and tailor them to their employees’ needs.

Aon says this can make it harder to justify investment and secure maximum value, and may explain why 70% of employers do not have a designated budget for health and wellness.

Of the employers that have a well-rounded strategy, 55% are using employee engagement surveys to drive their health and wellbeing programmes. These have overtaken more traditional markers such as Employee Assistance Programme utilisation and absence data as the main metric for informing employers’ strategies.

Wellbeing has also moved up the corporate agenda, with more than half of employers (56%) already having or planning to have Board-level sponsorship for their wellbeing initiative. According to Aon, this shows the level of importance placed on wellbeing and what it can offer organisations in terms of improved health, engagement and productivity.

Looking ahead, employers plan to focus their 2021 healthcare spend on education and prevention, with 78% of respondents looking to focus on this area. There has, however, been a notable shift in the number of employers looking to provide access to treatment, which ranked least important 12 months ago but is now second in importance, with 39% of employers planning to focus on this offering.

The survey also illustrated the wellbeing pillars employers see as priorities.

  • Most employers (76%) now have emotional/mental wellbeing strategies in place, which is up 8 percentage points from 2020 (68%). Nearly two thirds (59%) of employers have a specific strategy in place for mental health.
  • When it comes to financial wellbeing, 41% of employers have a strategy in place, despite 61% of employers agreeing that they are responsible for influencing employee financial wellbeing. The number of employers with ‘no plans’ to implement financial wellbeing solutions has increased from 30% in 2020 to 39% in 2021.
  • Career and Social wellbeing also stayed lower on the agenda, with only 32% and 30% of employers, respectively, having defined strategies in place. These have changed in the last year: Career wellbeing has lowered as an employer priority – 36% of employers had a defined strategy last year – yet Social wellbeing has risen by 2 percentage points, up from 28% in 2020.
  • Sixty-one percent of employers have a defined strategy in place for employee physical health, a marginal decrease from 65% in 2020.

Find out more about the Aon UK Benefits and Trend Survey 2021 and download a copy of the report here.