EMEA employers say stress is biggest wellbeing concern… but prioritise physical health

The vast majority of EMEA employers believe there is a correlation between employee health and performance – but fewer than one in seven actually measure health programme results.

There was also widespread agreement that stress and mental health were the biggest workplace health concerns, however, programmes addressing physical health or the work environment (47%) were the most commonly implemented.

Just one in three (32%) employers had emotional or psychological support while 43% had social programmes. One in four (26%) had financial health programmes, although these were expected to see the biggest predicted growth with 23% of respondents planning to introduce such schemes.

Only 40% of organisations said they had an overall defined health strategy, while limited budgets were the biggest challenge to implementing intiatives.

Increasing productivity and employee performance (52%) was seen as the top priority for EMEA employers, with attracting and retaining talent (51%), improving employee engagement (49%) and reducing or managing costs (44%) close behind.

As far as the least important subjects, employers were far less concerned about tackling long-term absence (4%), developing corporate social responsibility (4%) and managing job mobility (7%).

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The survey also found that employers did not make enough use of data analytics with only 26% using the data at their disposal to inform their approach to health.

Aon Employee Benefits chief broking officer for health and benefits in the UK and EMEA Matthew Lawrence, said: “Several influences are starting to drive home to employers the importance of addressing health and wellbeing.

“Unfortunately, poorly thought-out strategies waste expenditure if they aren’t underpinned by data. Using data and analytics is imperative as this informs the employer about the overall health of their employee population.

“Using the data sets available to build a foundation level of risk profiling means informed and targeted decisions can be made around the future wellbeing strategy – and how the provision of benefits and health related services can be integrated effectively in the future,” he added.

 

The survey conducted by Aon questioned 500 HR directors and risk managers from 22 countries across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

The key findings were:

  • 93% of EMEA employers saw a correlation between health and employee performance
  • only 13% measure outcomes that could evidence results
  • 85% of those who do not measure results would like to measure these outcomes
  • 65% agree stress and mental health biggest concern
  • although only 32% of employers have emotional/psychological health programmes in place
  • 69% see limited budget as biggest challenge to implement health strategies
  • Have a defined health strategy in 40% of firms across the entire survey – with 21% of those without a strategy planning to define one within the next two years

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Regional trends

Some noticeable differences also appeared between individual nations and regions:

  • Ireland: Attracting and retaining talent was the biggest issue for 89% vs 51% average
  • Latvia: Encouraging sustainable employability was much higher at 26% vs 9% average
  • Netherlands: Handling ageing of employees was a significant concern 41% vs 11% average
  • Netherlands: Encouraging sustainable employability was also noticeably higher at 36% vs 9% average
  • Africa: Reducing employee absenteeism was a much bigger issue 20% vs 11% average
  • Central and Eastern Europe: Increasing productivity and employee performance was higher here at 65% vs 52% average

 

Aon EMEA health leader Mario Hooglugt said it was encouraging that the vast majority of EMEA employers saw a correlation between employee health and performance.

“This thinking has quite rightly entered the corporate psyche, a far cry from a few years ago. However, this journey needs to continue to progress. Now it’s about putting a strategy in place to support employees as well as measuring a programme’s performance to ensure that it benefits corporate objectives effectively.”

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