Wellbeing, Technology Drive Workplace Productivity

Employers are prioritizing total wellbeing and embracing technology to drive workplace productivity and employee satisfaction, according to a new survey from Buck.

Workplace productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention are linked to physical health and financial wellbeing, among other elements of broader total wellbeing, according to a new survey from Buck. Working Well: A Global Survey of Workforce Wellbeing Strategies found that 40% of organizations believe they have achieved a culture of wellbeing in 2018 compared to only 33% in 2016. Among the remaining respondents, 81% aspire to achieve a culture of wellbeing.

Nearly 75% of employers view support for total wellbeing as an important element in their employee value proposition, with the same number citing it as a part of their corporate image or brand – a dramatic rise from 38% in 2016. Almost half say it supports diverse needs by generation or life stage. In addition, the survey showed a significant rise (up from 66% in 2016 to 73% in 2018) in employers’ focus on reducing health care or insurance costs.

workplace productivity
(Source: Working Well: A Global Survey of Workforce Wellbeing Strategies, Buck)

“Our survey results confirm that supporting employee wellbeing holistically is much more than a ‘nice to do’ – it’s a core, competitive business need,” said Ruth Hunt, a Principal in Buck’s Engagement practice and also the Global Workforce Wellbeing Survey leader. “Our findings demonstrate that a failure to creatively invest in employee wellbeing can result in many adverse consequences for the success and sustainability of a business.”

According to the survey, top factors influencing employee wellbeing include stress (95%), work/life issues (94%), depression, anxiety, and weight management issues (93%), and access to healthcare services (92%).

Key findings:

  • Betting on data and technology to drive wellbeing: Companies increasingly rely on technology to drive efficiencies in benefits delivery, including greater personalization and relevance. The most effective approaches include predictive analytics (84%), incentive tools and tracking (80%), portal hubs (69%), and decision-support tools (63%).
  • Identifying financial wellbeing issues: Financial instability and/or inadequate financial protection, and financial distress, were rated as detriments of poor financial wellbeing by 84% and 83% respectively. Inability to retire was a driver for 72% of employers, and 58% cited delayed retirement as a key issue. Other negative impacts of poor financial wellbeing also included lower productivity (52%), absence from work (47%), higher health care costs (38%), and unwanted turnover (30%).
  • Expanding total wellbeing offerings: While respondents identified physical health as the most mature offering, employers have introduced newer offerings in the last five years to promote enhanced financial literacy and skills, as well as enhance spiritual wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, and social connectedness. The top program elements to be added by those expanding their financial wellbeing offerings included money management and budgeting tools (66%), financial health assessments (66%), retirement estimating tools/calculators (63%), and financial literacy and skills education (59%). Overall, results demonstrate a continued march toward support beyond physical health.
  • Driving global wellbeing: For multinational organizations, health-related wellbeing programs for physical and mental/emotional health continue to well exceed – by nearly 50% – the number of financial wellbeing programs. Regionally, the U.S. and Canada well exceed the percentage of offerings in other regions, with Europe, including the UK, second highest in number of health and financial wellbeing programs.

“A combination of stressors such as health challenges, relatively stagnant wages, heightened financial pressures, and always-on technology are taking a personal toll on employees. Employers are now focusing their wellbeing programming accordingly,” said Hunt. “Wellbeing has become a popular catch-phrase, but the stressors are real and employers can actually see how employees’ wellbeing is impacting the bottom line.”

Based on responses from 252 employers in 56 countries covering 5.22 million employees, Working Well: A Global Survey of Workforce Wellbeing Strategies, eighth edition, 2018, explores trends in employer-sponsored wellbeing programs. From an original focus on physical wellness and related health promotion, the survey scope expanded to include financial wellbeing in 2016. The 2018 questionnaire expanded again, asking employers to assess the extent to which their organizations are supporting employees’ physical, mental/emotional and financial, as well as professional, social, community, and other aspects of wellbeing.