/Aon: UK employers proactive with health and wellbeing, but lag behind EMEA in defining strategy

Aon: UK employers proactive with health and wellbeing, but lag behind EMEA in defining strategy

  • 63% of UK employers are taking steps to manage impact of employee health
  • UK employers less likely to have a defined health strategy compared to EMEA respondents (28% vs 40%)
  • 94% of UK employers agree that they are responsible for influencing employee health and changing behaviours

Aon, a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions (NYSE:AON), has found that although many UK employers are increasingly proactive on health and wellbeing initiatives, they are less likely than EMEA organisations to have a defined strategy. Aon’s 2018 EMEA Health Survey shows that 63% of UK employers are taking steps to manage the impact of health, an increase of 5% since the last survey in 2016, yet are less likely to have a defined health strategy compared to survey respondents as a whole across EMEA (28% vs 40%). UK organisations are also slightly less likely to have a defined strategy than two years ago (28% vs 30%) and 61% have no defined budget for health.

The survey has responses from more than 900 employers from across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region and in 25 industries. It covers 2.7 million employees, aiming to identify the key health issues employers are facing as they develop their people risk strategies, including the opportunities and challenges.

Ninety-four percent of UK employers agree that they are responsible for influencing employee health and changing behaviours – slightly up from 2016 (93%). It shows that all types of health and wellbeing programmes – whether physical, psychological, social or financial – are more likely to be provided in UK organisations than they were at the time of the previous survey.

Seventy-seven percent are more likely to have physical programmes in place, 70% to have social programmes, while 58% have emotional/psychological or financial (39%) programmes. However, 40% are planning to introduce financial health programmes in the future, potentially a response to employers listing financial health as one of the issues they are most concerned about.

Matthew Lawrence, Chief Broking Officer, Health & Benefits, EMEA at Aon, said:

“The importance of wellbeing is everywhere, with political leaders, business leaders, royalty and other groups all making headlines. The proactivity we therefore see in the UK is positive yet unsurprising because many employers are trying to build and develop a health strategy in an increasingly challenging environment. 

“Ongoing economic issues are a given, but there are other factors. These include a rapidly evolving healthcare model not least considering digital health, a workforce’s changing needs, requirements and expectations, and trying to improve employee engagement. All these are alongside the fact that employers are increasingly recognising their role in trying to educate and improve individuals’ often poor lifestyle behaviours.”

When it comes to data analytics of health and wellbeing information, the UK is leading the march in comparison to the EMEA region overall (31% vs 22%), but confidence in understanding the impact of health, including cost, is considerably lower (20% vs 36%).

Matthew Lawrence added:

“The number of UK firms claiming to have a defined health strategy has decreased, down slightly on the 2016 survey and lower than across the respondents as a whole. Part of this may be due to many employers already having health initiatives in place, ones which are likely not ideal in terms of targeting the right people risk issues – and not packaged as part of a formal wellbeing framework.

“Putting in place a structured approach that is relevant, measurable, communicated effectively and maximises the value of stakeholders involved would be a positive step for many UK employers.”

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK.