Employers to focus on employee well-being

The majority (64 percent) of employers say that by 2018, they will focus on developing a workplace culture that supports employee well-being as a primary strategy to boost health engagement, according to recent research from Willis Towers Watson. This is a significant shift, as just 34 percent say it was a core strategy in 2015.

The 2015/2016 Willis Towers Watson Staying@Work Survey further found that more employers have adopted a broader view of workforce health that includes physical, mental, emotional and financial health. For example, 47 percent include financial well-being as a key part of their overall workforce well-being strategy today and 80 percent expect to include it by 2018. Employers also are taking a more holistic approach that recognizes the connections between each of these elements and to the workplace itself.

“Many employees today have a complex set of interconnected issues to deal with, which can prevent them from bringing their best selves to work each day,” said Jeff Levin-Scherz, national lead, Health Management practice at Willis Towers Watson. “Employers increasingly are understanding that to make a measureable difference in employees’ overall health and productivity, they must drive well-being initiatives deeper into the organization and embed them in employees’ day-to-day work experience.”

The survey found the following steps among those employers are taking to build a healthy workplace culture:

Obtaining commitment from leadership. Just over half (51 percent) of employers say their senior leaders are visible champions of the organization’s health and well-being strategy. Just under half (49 percent) have built health and well-being into their employee value proposition.

Creating a supportive physical and social environment. More than two-thirds (70 percent) of employers have improved their physical environments to encourage healthy behaviors. Examples include adding healthy foods to cafeteria menus, walking paths and campus bike-sharing programs. Many employers also are tapping into the power of peer influence by recruiting local champions (62 percent), encouraging employees to share personal stories (61 percent) and enabling key influencers to spread the word through social networks (32 percent).

Making it personal. More than half (56 percent) of employers ask employees what’s missing from their well-being experience and what they need to succeed at work. One-third (35 percent) invite family members to participate in programs and activities.

Leveraging technology. Seventy-four percent of employers make online health improvement tools available to employees both at work and at home. More than half (58 percent) have a portal devoted exclusively to health-related information.

“Workforce health can be a true differentiator,” said Shelly Wolff, senior health care consultant at Willis Towers Watson. “As the well-being of employees and their families is enhanced, employers are better positioned to achieve bottom-line goals, improve benefit cost management and lower absenteeism. What’s more, they’ll also have happier, healthier and more engaged employees.”

SOURCE: Willis Towers Watson press release, May 19, 2016.

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