Employee wellbeing has risen in importance and investment

Photo by Kampus Production

Aon plc has released its 2022-2023 Global Wellbeing Survey, wherein – among other key findings – global data shows that improving employee wellbeing factors can enhance company performance by at least 11 percent and up to 55 percent.

There is a relationship between wellbeing and a sustainable working life, which can impact company performance. The higher an employer’s ratings for overall employee wellbeing and the higher the performance of wellbeing initiatives, the better their scores are in the areas that form a sustainable working life.

Employee wellbeing rising in importance and seeing increasing investment

Overall employee wellbeing ranked the highest in Asia Pacific (APAC) compared to other regions, with 49 percent of companies describing it as excellent or very good, slightly higher than the global average (46 percent).

This could be attributed to the growing importance of employee wellbeing for APAC organisations. Employee wellbeing ranked among the top three priorities for APAC businesses’ human capital strategy, with 67 percent of employers in APAC saying wellbeing is more important to their company and 48 percent say it has increased in priority, compared to 2020.

Furthermore, 49 percent of companies in APAC reported that they have increased their investment in wellbeing initiatives compared to 43 percent globally. With 50 percent of organisations allocating 4 percent or more of their overall benefits budget to wellbeing initiatives, funding allocation was the largest compared to other regions globally.

“An increasingly volatile business environment combined with evolving employee expectations exacerbated by COVID-19 requires that organisations change the way they think about building a resilient workforce,” Tim Dwyer, chief executive officer for Health Solutions, APAC at Aon, said.

“Our study demonstrates the importance employers in the region place on employee wellbeing. Not only have they increased their financial investment, but more businesses are reporting integrating wellbeing with their business strategies and company culture. Understanding and addressing the diverse needs of employees through a well-designed wellbeing strategy will ensure businesses make better decisions that create a more flexible, engaged and resilient workforce.”

Mental health is top wellbeing issue

Mental health and burnout/languishing are the top two employee wellbeing issues in APAC. Burnout is defined as job-related stress that has not been managed, while languishing refers to a sense of being stuck and not making progress. Although burnout is the second-most cited employee wellbeing issue, only 18 percent of companies incorporate this topic in their emotional wellbeing initiatives and only 24 percent train their managers on managing burnout.

The survey further revealed that companies are increasingly taking a more strategic approach to employee wellbeing, with 85 percent of organisations in APAC having a wellbeing strategy in 2022, compared to 55 percent in 2020.

In addition, 77 percent of employers reported that wellbeing is integrated into their overall business and talent strategy. The majority of participants also said that they have connected or integrated their wellbeing strategy with other parts of the company including health and safety (90 percent); diversity, equity and inclusion (90 percent); environmental, social and governance (87 percent); and total rewards (83 percent).

However, when compared to other regions, the APAC region rated second lowest in terms of the percentage of employers incorporating emotional wellbeing into their company’s strategy (52 percent).

Also, while 88 percent of companies in APAC have at least one wellbeing initiative in place, most wellbeing initiatives are one dimensional, and there is mismatch between what is offered and the issues that need to be addressed, indicating there is much work to be done.

Alan Oates, head of advisory and specialty for Health Solutions, APAC at Aon, said: “As businesses in the region allocate ever-greater investments to improve the wellbeing of their employees, our data reveals gaps in what businesses think is important versus what employees need and are offered.

Organisations must therefore avoid implementing one-off individual wellbeing initiatives with no connection to a larger business plan. Using data and analytics to identify employee needs and aligning interventions with those needs will ensure organisations make better decisions to improve wellbeing and overall workforce resilience.”