COVID-19 causes cultural shift in UK organisations approach to employee health and wellbeing

Research by employee benefits provider Unum has found 86% of UK employers surveyed are changing their approach to employee health and wellbeing in light of the current pandemic. Almost all employers surveyed (95%) say it has impacted their need to make people feel more protected, with many focusing their health and wellbeing strategies on preventative measures, like mental health advice and support.

The research, captured in a report expected next month titled Employee Benefits and the Value of Help*, surveyed 350 UK employers and more than 1,000 employees, to better understand the emotional and commercial value of benefits and how they are changing.

Key findings of the research, include:  

  • 72% of employers believe that their motivation for introducing health and wellbeing measures is based on a need to care for and protect the people they work with
  • Many businesses are focussing on prevention rather than cure, with almost half (47%) offering preventative wellbeing measures
  • Two-thirds (68%) of employers said investment in health and wellbeing has grown in importance over the past two years

COVID-19 has had a direct impact on the approach to health and wellbeing measures at work, as the research revealed 40% of employers surveyed place more value on employees being fit and well since the pandemic. Nearly four in ten (38%) of respondents surveyed said the pandemic has prompted a review of health and wellbeing strategies, while only 4% said they have made no changes at all.

The research also found that the pandemic has accelerated existing trends in workplace awareness, putting a greater emphasis on employee wellbeing and the desire for more flexible and remote working. Indeed, 42% of employers interviewed explained they have implemented new procedures to align to the increase in working from home as a result of COVID-19.  In addition, the study reveals that benefits can have both ‘emotional’ and ‘commercial’ value to employees.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Glenn Thompson, Customer Solutions Director of Unum UK, explained:

“Whether it’s from individuals, communities, or businesses, 2020 has brought the value of help and support to the front of all our minds. Employers are being challenged like never before, while employees are likely to need even more help, and our latest research gives a clearer understanding of how both groups value different kinds of support.

“We’ve identified a tiered system of benefits that helps us to understand the value of help and explains the importance and relevance of each service – from highly valued services, through to niche services and discounts. By understanding the value of the benefits they provide, businesses can ensure the measures they invest in can make a real, demonstrative difference to employee health and wellbeing and their business.”    

About the research

1,024 UK employees and 350 employers were interviewed by Loudhouse (on behalf of Unum) in September 2020 on a range of issues related to health and wellbeing services offered in the workplace.

*The report will be available from the start of January on Unum’s website:

About Unum

Unum is a leading employee benefits provider offering financial protection through the workplace including: Income Protection, Life insurance, Critical Illness, and Dental cover.

Our Income Protection customers have access to medical and vocational rehabilitation expertise designed to help people stay in work and return to work following illness and injury. Unum LifeWorks, our Employee Assistance Programme, provides help and advice on a range of work/life issues.

At the end of 2019, Unum protected 1.7 million people in the UK and paid claims of £326 million – representing in excess of £6 million a week in benefits to our customers – providing security and peace of mind to individuals and their families. 

Our parent company, Unum Group, is a provider of employee benefits products and services in the United States, including group and individual disability insurance. Premium income for Unum Group and its subsidiaries totalled $9.4bn in the year ended 31 December 2019, with reported revenues for the group totalling £12.0 bn and total assets of $67.0bn.

A.M Best have given Unum Group’s core US insurance subsidiaries a Good rating for Financial Strength.

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Author: Editorial Team

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