By Debbie Kleiner, Head of Workplace Happiness at PES
I’ve noticed that many small to mid-sized companies (under 1,000 employees) keep their employee benefits and wellbeing programme in two very separate compartments. They simply don’t join the dots between the two.
This strikes me as a missed opportunity. If you offer employee benefits, there may be some wellbeing quick wins just waiting for your attention.
Enlightened employers offer lots of health-related employee benefits: for example, cycle to work, gym perks, employee assistance programmes (EAPs), health cash plans and private medical insurance (PMI).
All of these can be part of the drive to promote good health and prevent illness. This is essential to any good wellbeing strategy, but it needs to be well-communicated to employees by workplace wellbeing champions – not just the ‘employee benefits department’!
Make the most of what you already have
Take EAPs, for example. When I run a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training course, people tell me that their EAP is generally under-utilised. This is partly due to untrained line managers who don’t recognise what the EAP offers. But it’s often quite simply overlooked!
One of the five keys to MHFA is knowing where to signpost people for support, and the EAP is an obvious place. But it isn’t only mental health first aiders who need to signpost – it should be managers as well. An integrated wellbeing plan will incorporate line manager training which includes helping them to make their team aware of appropriate employee benefits.
Another key to MHFA is to discuss ‘other’ support (apart from professional interventions by trained specialists). The Five Ways to Wellbeing is a great framework for discussion, and it helps people to understand why certain employee benefits are good for their mental health and wellbeing.
Use insurer ‘freebies’
For example, employees can ‘be active’ by accessing a cycle to work scheme, or taking out discounted gym membership. If they want to ‘take notice’ and are lucky enough to have PMI with Vitality, they will get a significant discount on one of the leading mindfulness apps – and get half price gym membership too. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
PES recently organised some mental health training free of charge for a client through their group income protection (GIP) provider. Our client had no idea this benefit was included in their monthly premium. For some clients, we offer a package in their three-year online benefits contract to include health promotion sessions, which can be monthly, quarterly, or during a wellbeing week.
Some insurers have very sophisticated apps to help promote health by setting individual targets as well as internal company competitions around fitness.
Include wellbeing apps in your employee benefits offering
Recently a client of ours ran a ‘steps challenge’ among their employees, which not only engaged them in physical fitness, but also rewarded the winning team with shopping vouchers through their employee benefits scheme.
Remember that wellbeing and employee benefits go hand-in-hand
Workplace health and wellbeing programmes not only have a positive impact on your employees’ wellness, they can also lead to a significant increase in engagement and overall productivity.
But make sure your employee benefits are an integral part of your wellbeing strategy. Use what you already have to full advantage. And if you’re reviewing your benefits, or just starting to think about offering them, remember what a key role employee benefits can play in workplace wellbeing.
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