UK employers lag on health strategy – Aon report

World map medicineUK employers are less likely to have a defined health strategy than their international peers and two-thirds do not understand the impact of employee health issues, according to new research.

Just 30 per cent of UK employers have a defined health strategy, compared to an average of 40 per cent across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, according to Aon Employee Benefits’ EMEA Health Survey.

The research shows just 37 per cent of UK employers understand the impact of their employee health issues, with strategies put in place out of line with employers’ concerns. While stress and mental health are the largest priority for employers, they are more likely to have put in place physical and social programmes for employees.

The research found 63 per cent believe their top issue is managing stress and mental health issues, with 51 per cent suggesting that physical health is their second highest health and wellbeing priority. But more employers have physical and social programmes to support employee wellbeing – 57 per cent and 55 per cent respectively – while just 41 per cent have an emotional or psychological programme in place.

The survey canvassed the opinions of 500 HR directors and risk managers from 22 countries across EMEA.

Aon Employee Benefits chief broking officer, health & benefits UK and EMEA Matthew Lawrence says: “Several influences are starting to drive home to employers the importance of addressing health and wellbeing. Our survey shows that 93 per cent of UK employers agree that they are responsible for influencing employee health and changing behaviours – an increase of over 15 per cent on the 2015 figure.

“Unfortunately, poorly thought-out strategies waste expenditure if they aren’t underpinned by data. Using data and analytics is imperative as this informs the employer about the overall health of their employee population. Using the data sets available to build a foundation level of risk profiling means informed and targeted decisions can be made around the future wellbeing strategy – and how the provision of benefits and health related services can be integrated effectively in the future. Once a programme is in place, other factors like communication and personalisation will also be key to effective delivery.”