Trend 3: Deliver on total well-being
Nurture a healthy workforce with benefits that matter
Our 2022 Global Talent Trends Study brings together the voices of C-suite executives, HR leaders, and employees from Australia and around the world and reveals what’s keeping them up at night as well as their hopes for the future. Their stories point to the need for a more Relatable Organisation, one that challenges legacy notions of value-creation and redefines its contribution to society. Uncover how organisations are taking advantage of the opportunity to redesign work, working and the workplace.
The top three HR priorities in Australia
Drive well-being with purpose, equity, impact
The pandemic exposed the vulnerable, and exacerbated the disparity between groups, worsening the heath and wealth gaps. The future of work holds many possibilities, among which there is an opportunity to address societal inequities. The people sustainability agenda is one way organisations can demonstrate this commitment, and the expectation from employees is clear: close to one in three employees expect the future of work to be focused on equality.
Return on the individual (not investment) is now the focus, with 29% of executives saying their investment in health and well-being has delivered measurable returns. This leaves the door open to build a stronger focus on supporting employee well-being in combination, not in competition, with mitigating business risks.
Lead a people sustainability agenda
A crisis can serve to bring people together, and the pandemic is a case in point. Trust is at an all-time high, with executives recognising the ‘whole-person’ well-being consideration, and the need for connection with work through purpose has become more important.
A deeper appreciation of the relationship between health, happiness and productivity, is paving the way for a more conscious focus on people sustainability. During the pandemic and its aftermath, health was catapulted to centre stage. With more than 91% of HR leaders now working closer with Executives to strategise on human capital risk, the workforce challenge continues to weigh heavily with growing concerns around employee well-being and exhaustion. A staggering 78% reported feeling at risk of burnout this year.
The post-pandemic environment has also unveiled new health risks related to concerns about the cost of living, job security and fatigue from ineffective work-life balance. According to employees, the main contributor to burnout is a misalignment between the reward offered for the amount of time and effort being put in by them. To address the burnout crisis, companies are placing a deeper focus on mental health, with more than a third (38%) of companies introducing a strategy to address mental or emotional well-being this year. While flexibility and remote working have had a seemingly positive impact on employee’s lives, there is a concern about the potential link between remote working and rising incidents of mental health problems.
Cultivating a culture of care is an attainable goal and begins with a focus on delivering healthy outcomes which are embedded in ways of working. This is in contrast to previously narrower concepts of well-being, mostly focused on health benefit provisions: programmatic (typically through insured plans or unsupported grass roots effort); superficial (e.g., free fruit, cycle-to-work options), and fragmented (defined and delivered at the local level). Multinationals are especially affected by uncoordinated and siloed programs that are difficult to track, and insufficiently linked with strategic outcomes.
Financial wellness is a new non-negotiable of the whole person well-being
Taking care of an increasingly diverse workforce requires understanding how the needs and circumstances of different populations have changed. For the first time, delivering on total well-being strategies (mental, social and financial) has been listed as the #1 HR priority for Australian organisations, second only to enhancing employee experience for retention purposes. The unfortunate reality is that Australians are also challenged by the rising cost of living which is acerbating job security concerns, and contributing to the risk of burnout.
Concerning, nearly half (43%) of Australians are worried about their financial futures. Leaning into the crisis, at least 29% of Australian companies are enabling employees to adapt retirement benefits to their personal circumstances and 31% are proactively offering older workers different employment options, including phased retirement. This is just the beginning of how employers can actively facilitate financial wellness for employees, and offer a more a holistic and inclusive well-being strategy that meets the needs of a multi-generational and diverse workforce.
Foster healthy cultures and behaviours through a personalised approach
Relatable organisations recognise the role total well-being plays in employees’ productivity and their ability to thrive. Such firms actively support the well-being outcomes of their entire workforce by encouraging healthy, rewarding and sustainable work behaviours and by offering personalised support during moments that matter. These companies are starting to move away from one-size-fits-all, worksite-oriented approaches, and move towards data-led ways of working, marrying digital with human delivery. Most of Australian HR leaders (80%) report to be doing more on employer brand and value proposition work than before the pandemic. While most (81%) HR leaders recognise the need for hyper-personalisation to ensure benefits attract and retain talent, only 35% are planning to individualise compensation and benefits for different groups. Varied and valued benefits are an opportunity to address employees’ unmet needs across a more holistic emotional, physical, social and financial range of benefits. With one in five employers re-segmenting the workforce to better tailor financial benefits, there is still an opportunity to truly align value on all fronts.
Regardless of where you are on the total well-being journey, here we share some recommendations for you to address the whole person agenda and embed a total well-being mindset in your organisation.
1. Engage senior business leaders (start with C-Suite, operations and risk leaders) in assessing how employee health and well-being impacts the business. Look for opportunities to collaborate in mitigating key people risks that lead to business continuity, brand and customer service threats.
2. Conduct employee listening exercises and develop personas to redesign your total rewards and Employee Value Proposition. Consider what employees need and value (instead of market indexed practices) as a beacon.
3. Ensure your total well-being strategy covers physical, mental, social and financial aspects and is culturally relevant and fit for purpose in the post-pandemic era. Enhance the benefits you offer and how and when they are offered based on what matters most to your people.
4. Move away from the market medium and stand out on benefits. Consider the needs of talent populations who have been left out in the past (e.g., women, early career, single parents, shift workers, lower earners, etc). Review your well-being proposition against digital standards and against your company’s values.
Suggestions to Accelerate – need to consider
1. Lead with people sustainability. Protect psychological and mental health as a priority, and monitor social indicators, engagement and presenteeism to measure the impact of benefits plans. Consider robust benefit management approaches to build organisational resilience in the face of crisis.
2. Make benefits and a healthy culture core to your EVP. Provide digital/mobile approaches to access benefits, advance well-being through leadership messaging and deliver the EVP throughout the employee lifecycle (from virtual fairs for jobs and benefits, to onboarding, to lifestyle changes). Measure touchpoints and activity to stay alert to changes in workforce preferences.
3. Look for ways to add choice without adding complexity. Consider marketplace solutions, spending accounts and voluntary benefits. Use dynamic nudging to help employees make healthy choices.
4. Embed digital solutions and health innovations including self-care options. Factor these into plans to enhance the employee experience.
“The unprecedented levels of employees at risk of burnout, has forced organisations to shift away from a one-size-fits all program approach. Instead, the holistic well-being packages that can be individualised and promote empowerment will more likely hit the mark on delivering healthy and thriving outcomes.”
- May Lee, Experience and Engagement Leader, Mercer
Engagement & Experience Leader, Mercer