The future of employee health and wellbeing
2020/1: some of the most turbulent years in this generation’s history. However, hopeful HR leaders began 2022 seeking calmer waters for their profession, their businesses and importantly, their people.
While the world of work has undoubtedly changed for good, the people profession has had to evolve too. As businesses the world over experienced seismic shifts in perspective and priorities, HR teams led the charge in championing the human element of work to effectively balance productivity with employee engagement, satisfaction and happiness at a time that saw us more separated than ever.
As how we work continues to change, attitudes towards employee health and wellbeing have evolved too – and its importance has only been heightened by the pandemic.
In the past three years alone, employee wellbeing has expanded beyond just the physical needs of employees. It now includes building a workplace and environment that is conducive to physical, emotional, financial and social wellbeing, career growth, and provides a sense of community and purpose.
We are delighted to welcome Alex Hind from Heka to the Natural HR blog who will be sharing his take on employee health and wellbeing. Alex is the Co-Founder of Heka, a wellbeing benefits platform that helps employees feel their best, so they can perform their best – at work & home.
Alex, what are the big HR trends that will change in the next 5 years?
Reshaping collaboration and innovation
“In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team here at Heka, along with thousands of other businesses in the UK, became remote-first.
“In fact, it turned out 97% of employees didn’t want to return to the office on a full-time basis, which poses new challenges for HR in a post-pandemic world. HR will need to play a pivotal role in reshaping collaboration and innovation in the workplace.
“Remote and hybrid working environments have become talent attracting benefits, however, our ability to create and collaborate with one another has suffered with the absence of an office environment.
“In the next five years, it will be in HR’s best interest to build digital and physical solutions for collaboration and innovation; and to utilise online platforms for relationships and communication of teams.
“Those that fail to move with the changing trends of the workplace will suffer in how well they retain talent. Those who do adapt to the benefits landscape of the coming years will see their teams grow exponentially.”
Emphasis on health and wellbeing
“We’ve seen such an uptake in health, fitness and wellbeing incentives over the past couple of years. In fact, 87% of employees now consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer.
“What’s more, the pandemic brought mental health and wellbeing to the surface in many businesses, with many influential figures speaking up on the matter. There’s much more openness to mental health and wellbeing in the workplace now, but there’s definitely so much further we need to go.
“The pandemic has destigmatised mental health and created a path to better working environments that leaders must stay strictly to. This, along with the rise of remote and hybrid working models, and the evident benefits they have on work-life balance, shows us it’s just the beginning of much more to come.
“Finally, Gen Z and millennials are gradually becoming the largest segment in the workforce, and as more health-conscious and fitness-driven employees, HR will need to consider the kind of benefits and incentives that appeal to these individuals.”
Embracing HR technology
“HR is still adopting technology to improve everything from recruitment, onboarding processes, performance and much more. Yet, with stories such as Uber’s facial recognition discrimination, work needs to be done to improve the use of technology in HR.
“As an online employee benefits platform, we see forward-thinking companies adopting tech in new and inventive ways in the near future. Especially considering the rise of digital wellbeing in the workplace.
“HR departments have begun to recognise that excessive screen time can damage productivity and performance in team members. A staggering 75% of employees to one survey said they believed limiting their screen time would vastly improve their mental health at work.“It’s HR leaders who need to leverage these applications and systems to set themselves apart from other HR departments. Ultimately this will future-proof recruitment, retention and employee wellbeing.”
What sort of role do you believe health and wellbeing will take in the future?
“As we are already seeing, health and wellbeing are becoming a determining factor in an applicant choosing employer A or employer B. In just a matter of months of years, it will take a more centre stage approach in the future workplace for all businesses.
“It’s no secret that a lot of working environments and conditions are toxic, and they just aren’t sustainable. I think the tide has begun to turn, and more leaders are realising this.
“This shift in behaviour is evident in younger generations of workers also, who are more driven by healthier lifestyles and fitness regimes. It’s only a matter of time before outdated and irrelevant benefits and initiatives in the workplace are scrapped by HR.
“HR departments will also need to find ways to support healthier lifestyles in and outside the workplace. This means providing initiatives and incentives that occur outside working hours and at a time that suits employees.
“Healthy office snacks or a ‘lunch and learn’ just isn’t enough anymore. As mentioned above, employees are seeking healthy benefits that take place outside of their office and desk space.
“Ultimately, employers will need to give people control of their benefits and create a personalised experience that puts team members first in the equation.
What do the next 5 years hold for employees?
“We envision a healthier, happier future for employees across all industries. Companies are starting to take action on improving the health and wellbeing of their people, and continued research suggests there are great benefits too.
“With improved productivity, performance and retention, it’s clear that empowering people to improve themselves, as opposed to offering discounted high-street vouchers, does work. It feels like these kinds of benefits have begun to wear thin, and their appeal to employees doesn’t inspire or lift their mood.
“It’s in our everyday routines, sleeping patterns and stress levels that impact our abilities at work. If physical fitness can really improve our happiness, then by offering a robust wellbeing package, HR leaders can build great teams.
“This direction will transform the employee experience, as forward-thinking companies finally opt for a people-centric approach to business. We needn’t look far to find great examples of companies that rose to the top of their game and put job satisfaction high on their agenda.
“Netflix, Salesforce and Microsoft spring to mind. Three companies that offer various benefits for different people with different circumstances. Parents, those planning families, those relocating, those who want flexible working, those who value an onsite fitness centre, and so much more.”
About Alex Hind
Alex Hind is the CEO and co-founder of Heka, an employee wellbeing platform that provides thousands of personalised health and wellbeing experiences to teams across the UK. For more information, please visit: www.hekahappy.com