2021 Predictions: Focus on employee well-being will thrive

As we begin to look ahead to 2021 with a renewed sense of optimism given the recent vaccination rollout, it is also worth exploring the measures that companies can take to ensure their employees’ well-being in the new year. Never before has the health and well-being of employees played such a central part in defining how employers approach the range of benefits they offer staff. The pandemic has made companies reassess their priorities.

However challenging 2020 was as a year, it will be remembered as a time when help and support took on renewed importance for people, communities and businesses. Whether it was the kindness shown between neighbours during the height of the pandemic, or public gratitude towards key workers, this was a period defined by people making sure those around them were okay, and stepping in when they were not.

These values exist in the business world, too. Companies have often provided help to their employees, in the shape of benefits including insurance. However, where this value exists is changing, as views around the emotional and commercial value of benefits evolve.

To better understand this shift, we surveyed UK employers and employees in the autumn of 2020. Indeed, almost all employers questioned (95%) say the 2020’s pandemic has impacted their need to make people feel more protected, with many focusing their health and well-being strategies on preventative measures, like mental health advice and support.

The research findings showed 72% of employers believe that their motivation for introducing health and well-being measures is based on a need to care for and protect the people they work with. Furthermore, many businesses are focussing on prevention rather than cure, with almost half (47%) offering preventative well-being measures. And two-thirds (68%) of employers said investment in health and well-being has grown in importance over the past two years.

The pandemic has accelerated existing trends in workplace awareness too. It has put a greater emphasis on employee well-being and the desire for more flexible and remote working. Indeed, 42% of employers interviewed have implemented new procedures to align to the increase in working from home as a result of COVID-19.

As we look towards 2021, it will be more important than ever to understand which benefits drive the greatest commercial and emotional value as employers are increasingly being expected to provide the right level of support for each of their employees.

The research identified the value of key benefits to help employers understand the importance and relevance of each benefit -- whether that be highly valued services like private healthcare, or niche services and discounts. By understanding the value of the benefits they provide, businesses can ensure these measures will make a real and demonstrative difference to their employees.

There’s no denying that 2020 has brought its businesses continuity challenges, but employees have been adapting very well to working from home and juggling this with their personal commitments. As we move into 2021, the adversities of the last year will undoubtedly reflect and inform the benefit packages of the future, for the well-being of all.

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