UK bosses claim that ensuring robust mental and physical health among employees is key to increasing productivity and profitability, and is the main aim of health and wellbeing policies.
The vast majority of employees also believe their employer now has a greater responsibility to offer support in the workplace.
A survey of 352 C-Suite executives found seven in 10 (69%) citing productivity levels as a motivating factor to introduce enhanced health and wellbeing policies, with supporting staff recruitment and attrition in second place (52%).
The research from Vitality and CBI Economics came a year on from government lifting work from home guidance.
However, while executives are building a business case around employee welfare and understand the benefit of a hybrid environment, more than half (59%) were finding tailoring support to meet differing needs challenging, with a third (32%) saying it was complicated to introduce health and wellbeing support for a hybrid workforce.
More than a third (36%) of business leaders polled cited a lack of time and resource as a barrier to supporting employee health and wellbeing.
A further 31% also lacked expertise to introduce or evolve health and wellbeing policies, suggesting that business leaders still require guidance on this a year on from hybrid working coming into effect.
Bosses need to step-up
Separate research among 2,005 UK office workers commissioned by Vitality and conducted by Censuswide over the same time-period, found the contract between employer and employee had fundamentally shifted.
Eight in 10 employees (82%) believe their employer has a greater responsibility to offer support and more than two in five (44%) want their bosses to step-up and do more to meet their health and wellbeing needs.
Looking into which health and wellbeing support is best, more than two thirds (66%) now consider flexible working to be the top health and wellbeing benefit an employer could offer.
Despite this, employees are divided on which environment best suits their needs, with 46% believing hybrid working to be best for mental health, compared to 26% for remote working and 27% for office working.
‘Recognising the business case’
Neville Koopowitz, CEO of Vitality UK, said: “One year on from when many businesses made hybrid working a reality for their teams, UK bosses are clearly recognising the business case that having a healthy workforce brings.
“However, they are grappling with how to do this in a hybrid world, when we are also seeing increasing employee expectations and demand for more tailored and personalised health and wellbeing support – regardless of their location or working environment.
“What is clear is that there is no magic solution, no one size fits all approach. It requires the right technology and data to understand the make-up of your business and the individuals within it, so that you can formulate the optimal employee engagement strategy.
“It also needs to be prioritised at the very top of a business to foster a deep-rooted commitment to health and wellbeing at all levels. This is both a challenge and opportunity for business leaders. Get it right – and businesses will unlock greater productivity and retention.”
CBI health programme director Jordan Cummins added: “For many, the world of work looks markedly different in the wake of the pandemic, with firms and employees working together to hone their own hybrid futures.
“Yet flexible working is just one facet of a growing business focus on wellbeing, with employee health increasingly now regarded as a sensible investment rather than a cost to be managed.
“With employee expectations undergoing a similarly seismic shift, firms which fail to evolve their health provision risk being left behind by more proactive competitors. There are big prizes on offer for companies which develop the right package for their workers.
“It can be easier to recruit and retain staff, job satisfaction rises while sickness absences decrease – and there are productivity gains too. This makes good health both a critical pillar of business success and a key driver of economic growth and societal prosperity.”