Remote work: Is HR doing enough to support well-being?

Employees are expecting more out of their employers in 2021

Remote work: Is HR doing enough to support well-being?

A new study across Singapore, the US, UK and United Arab Emirates has revealed a gap between how employees and employers view their company’s existing mental and physical health benefits program.

About three in five employees said they’d like to see their companies spend more on their overall well-being. However, only a third of employers agreed that they should invest and offer more support. The study is evidence of how employee expectations have changed following the COVID-19 pandemic.

For a start, they found a growing awareness and importance placed on health and wellness. Workers agreed that mental health (84%) and physical health (89%) are more important to them now than it was a year ago. A majority (87%) of employees now considered access to quality health care as a top priority for them.

Unfortunately, employees, most of whom were working from home felt that they’re not receiving enough support from their organisations. According to Aetna International’s study, the biggest concerns were surrounding mental well-being support.

  • Just 25% of employees rated the support they received from their employer for stress as ‘good’. However, nearly double the rate of employers (42%) believed they’re offering plenty of support.
  • About 27% of employees rated their mental health support for conditions like depression and anxiety as ‘poor’. Meanwhile, only 9% of employers said the same.

Even those working in the office felt that the support they received was ‘lacking’.

  • Over half (55%) of employers rated their general wellness support in the office as ‘good’. However, just 36% of employees agreed.
  • As for mental well-being support, 52% of employers rated their provision as ‘good’. Similarly, only 32% of employees said the same about their benefits.

Read more: Key trends: Health and wellbeing strategy for 2021 and beyond

The impact of COVID-19 on employee well-being

With most employees across the globe continuing to work remotely, some or all of the time, there is a clear shift in perceptions around corporate well-being support. For instance, more than three in five (65%) employees would only return to the office if their employer changed their policies regarding workplace well-being.

Many employers (63%) understand that there’s now a greater expectation for them to take more responsibility for employee health beyond the workplace, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic (66%).

Since then, one in three employers have made improvements to their mental health support (35%) and physical health support (36%). However, only 23% have improved their general well-being support for remote workers in the past six months.

Read more: Remote work: Why mental health support is crucial

Dr Hemal Desai, global medical director at Aetna International, said that due to the ‘heightened employee expectations’, employers need to do more.

“Workers’ needs for health and well-being support are also more visible to employers than ever,” said Dr Desai. “Organisations across the globe are stepping up their health and wellness benefits efforts. Yet it’s clear that more needs to be done given the volatile, unpredictable and complex state of the world.

“Never has there been a more critical time for employers to pivot and evolve to meaningfully engage and better meet the total health and well-being needs of their people – particularly their mental health.”

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