Both employers and employees face a major lack of understanding regarding health and wellbeing need and support, according to research from Towergate Health & Protection, and that can make it more challenging than it should be when looking at how to support staff in the coming year.
The research, revealed today, looks at employers’ understanding of the health and wellbeing needs of their staff, and also at employees’ understanding of the benefits provided for them. It uncovers a lack of knowledge and awareness on both side of the benefits coin.
Employers’ lacking understanding
Less than a third of employers (29%) strongly agree that they have a good understanding of the overall health and wellbeing needs of their employees. Specifically across the four pillars of wellbeing, having a good understanding of employees’ mental and physical health and wellbeing scores highest (both at 30%), with a good understanding of social needs next (29%), and financial wellbeing needs least well understood (27%).
Debra Clark, head of specialist consulting at Towergate Health & Protection, says: “If employers do not understand the requirements their staff have for health and wellbeing support, they cannot hope to provide benefits that are relevant and valued.”
Employees’ lack of understanding
The same is true from the employees’ perspective, in terms of the support offered. Little more than half of employers (53%) are confident that most employees have a very good understanding of the full range and value of benefits provided. A quarter (24%) say only some employees have a good understanding of their benefits, and 16% say most employees have a poor understanding of their benefits.
Debra Clark comments: “Clearly there is a lack of communication surrounding health and wellbeing support. It is vital that employees have a full understanding of the support that is available, or they will not utilise or benefit fully from it.”
Addressing the issues
Much of the issue regarding understanding of benefits is linked to communication. This needs to be a two-way process, with employees letting the company know what requirements they have and employers conveying what is available in terms of support.
Realistically, the impetus for both is likely to have to come from the employer. A simple survey can tell an employer a great deal about the needs of employees and means that support can be based on facts not theories. Equally, it is down to the employer to then communicate the benefits offered, to ensure employees understand the value and take full advantage of support.
Debra Clark concludes: “There are lots of ways of communicating benefits requirements and provision. The process itself can be a very positive experience, with surveys and focus groups showing that the employer is interested in, and cares about, employees’ wellbeing needs. The outcome is that those benefits provided have a real and tangible impact on the employees and the business.”
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