Aetna surveyed 3,520 employees from offices in the UK, UAE, US, and Singapore asking about their company’s response to health and wellbeing at work. The survey investigated whether, over the last 12 months, employers have followed up on promises to prioritise wellbeing and health amongst workers.
In general, employees were positive about their company’s response to physical health. Forty per cent of workers felt measures to tackle physical health had improved. Forty-three per cent rated communication about the topic as good and 42 per cent rated action taken at the same level. Staff were happy with strategies to combat work-related problems such as back pain and poor posture, with 38 per cent deeming initiatives in place to be good.
Businesses more focused on employee wellbeing, but mental health care still lacking
David Healey, Chief Executive Officer, Europe at Atena International, commented on the findings of the survey. “Over the last year and certainly throughout the pandemic, businesses have been much more vocal about the importance of employee health and wellbeing. It’s fantastic to see that employers are taking steps to ensure these commitments are more than just a tick box exercise – our research suggests that companies are incorporating health and wellness into their overall action plans, and that real progress is being made to improve the health support on offer.”
However, many respondents felt mental health did not receive the same attention as physical health ailments and was, at times, overlooked. Whilst 75 per cent of workers were confident their physical health was important to employers, 38 per cent feared mental health was not respected in the same way. Only 25 per cent of employees felt that plans to protect mental health had been pursued, and although information was provided, the majority felt that the correct support was not available. Part-time workers even expressed concerns that the office environment had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.
“We also found that some workers – for example, very young employees or those who work part time – have a more negative view of their company’s approach to health and wellbeing, suggesting more needs to be done to cater to the needs of the entire workforce,” continued Healy.
“Now is the time for businesses to build upon the good work they’ve already started and make sure their strategies and internal culture are supportive of whole person health – covering everything from physical health, to an individual’s mental and emotional well-being. Employers must also make sure that communication and support is visible and available to everyone – regardless of their position, location, working status or personal circumstances."
“Not only is this the right thing to do, it could also have significant implications for productivity, recruitment and retention. The pandemic has made many employees reassess their priorities and the hunt for talent is becoming increasingly competitive. This is a trend that will almost certainly continue this year, possibly longer. When it comes to finding and retaining the best people, companies that do not prioritise, value or respect their employee’s wellbeing will simply be left behind.”