A big majority – 86 per cent of employers said they have prioritised employee communications as a result of the pandemic, with 71 per cent of employers now conducting research among their employees to understand their needs, up 9 per cent from last year, according to Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends Survey.
The research also found 92 per cent indicated a focus on mental health. Since the impact of Covid-19, 87 per cent of respondents said they are focusing on wellbeing for homeworking, 83 per cent on general wellbeing and 68 per cent on emotional support, with 56 targeting their wellbeing initiatives to improve employee resilience.
When it comes to physical health, 66 per cent of employers now provide a digital GP service, either available to staff on a voluntary or flexible basis (12 per cent), fully company funded to all staff (40 per cent) or fully funded to some staff (14 per cent). Just 48 per cent provided this benefit in 2020.
The number of respondents who said that value-added services such as employee assistance programmes, rehabilitation support and educational content are now very important to them and a key part of their strategy has increased 14 percentage points from 31 per cent in 2020 to 45 per cent in 2021.
The pandemic also impacted employers’ views on their Employee Value Propositions (EVP), with 41 per cent stating they are being re-evaluated. Of those surveyed, 28 per cent said they have a clear EVP, up from 23 per cent last year, while 43 per cent planned to develop one this year.
The report identified positive movement in the number of organisations that explain their EVP to employees; two years ago, approximately one third of respondents did not communicate their EVP, but now this figure has fallen to just 14 per cent. According to respondents, the benefits of having an EVP are increasingly clear: 87 per cent said it has a positive impact on recruitment, 85 per cent reported a positive impact on employee engagement and 78 per cent said it improved retention.
Aon director, proposition and development Colin Barnes says: “The humanitarian and economic challenges of 2020 created a catalyst for long-lasting change in the workplace. The pandemic has accelerated new approaches needed for businesses to survive or thrive. Surrounded by these challenges, employees needed clarity and confidence in the messages they received from their employers. Where communication had long been a priority, last year it become even more important.
“Indeed, wellbeing has been an increasingly relevant boardroom topic as employers connected productivity and profitability to engagement, resilience and the underlying health of their workforce. It is overwhelmingly positive to see the number of employers recognising and responding to this need.
“In the last year, organisations had to react incredibly quickly to changing situations. The pandemic made us all acutely aware of volatility and the global nature of such threats. The unfortunate reality is that future global risks may not just include more health pandemics, but also other long-tail risks such as cyber threats or natural disasters. Any one of these will test an organisation’s strategy and endurance. What is important is acting on what we’ve learned so that both employer and employee are ready and resilient to future disruption.”
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