Top trends in wellbeing to boost innovation

Published by Kevin O'Neill on

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes


Wellbeing seems to be the “topic du jour” these days. But increasingly I question, what does the term actually mean, are providers being truly innovative and are many employers still paying lip service to the concept? 

Arguably, underlying the concept of wellbeing is the need to provide an environment where an employee can be healthy, happy in their work and most importantly efficient and productive. That being said, reading the trade press and mainstream media it's clear wellbeing means very different things to different people.

A quick scroll through my own LinkedIn feed before putting pen to paper revealed a range of posts covering positive thinking, mindfulness and stress awareness - as well as healthy eating and financial wellbeing. I also saw wellbeing products and services including Private Medical Insurance, the business impact of treating MSK, access to GP services, Group Income Protection and mental health training.

I didn’t see a post on the semi-mythical, bowl of fruit in the kitchen.

Individually, each of these and all of the myriad other wellbeing-badged products and services out there add to the sum of their parts and some of them could be seen as innovative. But individually, do any of them constitute an innovative trend in wellbeing, other than being classified under the same catch-all title and individually, do any offer a truly innovative wellbeing strategy?

Changing priorities in the workplace reinforce the need for us to set an innovative wellbeing strategy. Our recent research: The Wellbeing Agenda, delves into the impact mental health has on UK businesses and revealed half of UK employers aren’t dealing with mental health effectively.

"the real innovation comes from the assessment of our six pillars of employee wellbeing"

Initially I wanted to write about how we at Barnett Waddingham work innovatively to help better manage employee illness and absence through the effective triage of cases via an employer’s private medical insurance scheme, and group income protection policy with its early intervention services and employee assistance plan.  But while triage is a key part of our toolbox, the real innovation comes from the assessment of our six pillars of employee wellbeing where we help employers and employees both understand just how they can be happy, healthy, efficient and productive in their role.

Our approach to wellbeing is based on the ancient Greek philosophy of Eudaimonia; a person’s state of happiness and human flourishing which is supported by our modern six pillars ideology which covers elements around My Job, Financial Security, Health, Protection, Support and Work Life Balance.

By addressing each of these six pillars from the perspective of the employee, it will have a positive impact on both them and the employer through increased productivity, reduced absence, fewer accidents, better employee engagement and retention and overall lower cost of benefit provision.

How do we achieve this?

The real innovation takes place through our ACDC approach where we:

Through use of our analytics tool BWell we can assess overall employee wellbeing and happiness within the workplace which starts the process of in-depth analysis of the workforce, incorporating an employee wellbeing survey and various data such as absence and premium. At this stage we do not make assumptions and do not simply offer product.  
The resulting feedback then allows further discussion on trends and hotspots highlighted within the analysis to allow an employer to implement a bespoke yet holistic wellbeing strategy.
The delivery may be via an intervention, education or a wellbeing strategy, which can be implemented through any market platform, our own platform (Me2) a third party provider or in house.
Once a wellbeing strategy has been agreed and implemented we don’t walk away. We believe it is vital to monitor and revisit on at least an annual basis to ensure it remains fit for purpose and meets the needs of employer and employee both. The check process also allows us to measure its effectiveness track increased levels of happiness and most importantly build the ROI case.

We believe that this approach will improve the wellbeing of employees but also increase their performance to the benefit of both employer and employee as well as creating a tangible return on investment.

Returning to the beginning of this article, the sheer volume of wellness products and services currently available is impressive and should be applauded. Likewise, in the face of such volume it is vital that employers need to very clearly understand the challenges their individual organisation and their employees face and take that as the starting place to introduce a truly innovative wellbeing proposition.