In the not-too-distant-past, the closest most companies got to looking after their employees’ health was helping out with health insurance, and maybe putting a bowl of fresh fruit out in the office kitchen. Today, things couldn’t be more different.
Those are all very positive things, but what are some of the big trends in creating a healthy workplace that you should be aware of?
Healthcare costs around the globe have ballooned, with advanced economies seeing particularly large increases.
As a consequence, many companies are having to re-examine the healthcare benefits they offer their employees.
In the US, some companies have tried to address this by shifting some of the costs onto their employees.
Naturally, that’s unlikely to go down well with your average worker, so other companies have tried to be more innovative.
Some, for instance, are encouraging their workers to have video and telephonic appointments with their doctors. Others push their medicinal coverage to large pharmaceutical carriers that can undercut smaller ones as well as steering workers toward hospitals with records of higher quality results and fewer complications for expensive procedures.
Prevention is better than cure
Tied to the increase in healthcare costs is a focus on preventative care. Just as many insurance companies now incentivise their clients to lead healthier lives because it results in fewer costs, so more and more companies incentivise their employees to do the same.
Whether it’s access to exercise, making healthy food available, or ergonomic office equipment, people in healthier office spaces are likely to take less sick leave and may even be more productive.
Technology has also made it easier to roll out and incentivise wellness programmes. Services such as Flabuless, for instance, allow companies to set up fitness challenges and tie the rewards to a variety of food, health, and fitness partners.
Over the past few years, it’s become increasingly evident that employee wellness is about more than just physical fitness and healthcare.
According to Forbes, “total well-being takes into account the full spectrum of wellness, including mental, emotional and physical elements”.
That means rolling out an employee wellness programme doesn’t just mean giving everyone gym memberships or always having fruit available in the office.
Some of the things a total wellbeing programme takes into account are office architecture, proximity to green spaces, on-site counselling services, and even what kind of art you have in the office.
If you want an idea of how this kind of approach can inform office design and architecture, check out our article on Sasol’s new headquarters.
As Anu Daga, Head of HR for DHL Express UAE, told us in a recent interview, “different people are motivated by different things”. That’s as true for employee health and wellness as it is for any other aspect of the working world.
Some employees, for instance, might prefer going for a run, or playing a game of Quidditch to spending time in the gym.
Given the likelihood of that happening, does it really make sense to have a single gym membership as a perk?
The same applies to healthcare benefits. Does it really make sense for the single creative director to be on the same generic plan as the brand manager mother of four?
Employers are gradually embracing this kind of personalisation too. They’re becoming facilitators, offering their employees benefits that add to their workplace experience.
As Alastair Woods, partner in the reward team at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), told employeebenefits.co.uk:
“[The] personalisation [of benefits] is about employers providing some level of customisation to individual employees and not just groups among their workforce, but within an existing framework, rather than offering radical choice. Choice allows employees to extract value.”
What are some of the trends you’ve noticed in employee healthcare? Let us know in the comments section below: