A competitive salary alone is no longer enough to attract and retain top staff. Instead, workers now expect companies to offer packages that support their wellbeing and lifestyle requirements too. 

According to the latest Workplace Culture Trends report, 86% of millennials said they would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company that offers packages that suit their values and lifestyle. Such perks include access to health care, gym memberships and parental leave. It is good that companies are listening.

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans reported that more than nine in 10 companies around the world offer staff at least one form of wellness benefit, and more than three in five have an allocated  “wellness budget”. Morever, these budgets are expected to increase by 7.8% in the coming years. According to Deloitte, the corporate wellness market as a whole will be worth $11.3 billion (R162.3bn) in 2021. 

The term wellness is a broad one and can cover just about any aspect of an employee’s life. So, which specific areas are companies focusing on this year?

Stress and mental health

Already a hot topic, the mental health of employees will continue to dominate wellness discussions. It is estimated that stress and lack of work-life balance support costs the EU20bn (R319bn) per year, Australia $30bn, Canada $12bn and US $300bn through reduced productivity. In South Africa, a study conducted by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) found that more than 40% of all work-related illness is due to work-related stress, major depression, burnout and anxiety disorders. 
Another study found that depression alone cost South Africa more than R232bn in lost productivity owing to absence from work and attending work while ill.

A study by Britain’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that 80% of employees with mental ill health in the UK struggle to concentrate, 50% are potentially less likely to be patient with customers and 37% are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues. 
It was also estimated that in the UK alone, mental ill health costs employers between £33bn and £42bn per year, so it is obvious why businesses will continue to address these issues this year. 

Financial support

Employers are also set to offer more financial wellness support this year. An Alexander Forbes Member Watch Survey found that SA employees are spending an average of 13 hours a month, in some cases more than 20 hours, worrying about their finances. What’s more, the PWC Employee Fit and Wellness Survey also revealed that UK employees who worried about their finances were absent from work for twice as many days as those who were not stressed – again impacting on productivity and a company’s ability to operate at full capacity.
This is an issue that overseas businesses have begun to address in recent years, with figures from Bank of America’s 2019 Workplace Benefits Report showing that twice as many companies offer financial wellness support today (53%) compared to four years ago (24%). 

However, according to research done by Thomsons Online Benefits, there are still a number of barriers preventing businesses from offering financial wellness programmes to employees. For example, almost one in four companies are concerned about the risk of getting too involved in their employees’ financial lives, 20% think that it is not their role to do so, while 24% worry about the costs of offering such support. 

Despite these concerns, there’s a clear need for businesses to offer financial wellness packages to their employees as they continue to recognise the impact financial worry has on their wellness.

Flexible working

As employees look to achieve greater work-life balance, they are increasingly seeking work with businesses that offer flexibility. This has become so important to employees that the latest IWG Global Workspace Survey found that 83% of workers around the world would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working, with 54% saying that having a choice of work location is more important to them than working for a prestigious company. 

As a result of this demand, in the past 10 years 85% of businesses have introduced a flexible workspace policy or are planning to adopt one. However, a number of companies still have reservations about flexible working.   

The employee wellness market has grown significantly in recent years, with HR departments continuing to identify effective ways of building a happy and motivated workforce. This growth shows no signs of slowing down in 2020 with employee mental health, financial well-being and flexible working all expected to become integral parts of staff wellness packages. 

Supplied by IWG.

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