Evolving workplace wellbeing

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A FEW decades ago, workplace wellness was in its infancy. Total reward was simply pay fuelled by performance-based bonuses and the certainty of a defined-benefit pension.

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Lycra and leg warmers were in, and weekly aerobics classes dominated personal fitness regimes. The ‘best companies to work for’ touted perks such as on-site gyms or health club memberships and free regular health checks. But things were not working. Benefit adoption was poor and tangible results wholly inadequate.

For years, employees felt that employers did not really care about their wellbeing. Workplace recognition of mental health was in short supply, presenteeism peaked and icy bureaucracy in larger organisations snowballed.

Enter the great reset.

Factors such as organisational culture and purpose, diversity and inclusion policies, corporate net-zero pledges, flexible and remote working, and parental leave now feature alongside the traditional rewards.

Recent news has seen the four-day working week become a permanent reality for the lucky few trialling this in the UK and Jersey. More sweeping changes are afoot in Guernsey where, like the UK, the States have approved proposals for the mandatory establishment of workplace pensions to be offered to the vast majority of employed people.

Jersey will follow suit because basic pension provision in the islands remains absent in more than half of the working-age population today, a ticking time-bomb.

We are seeing an evolution towards multifaceted physical, mental, emotional and financial wellbeing solutions tailored to each individual employee. But how will employers design, measure and implement the right employee-value proposition?

The recent development of tools to support a more holistic benefits approach now expected by employees is evidenced in the launch of Anova and Uniti in Jersey. Is this enough?

The wage inflation deficit, exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis and volatile markets influencing the uncertain outcomes of defined-contribution pensions, might tip the pendulum back towards extrinsic rewards in the short term.

But the genie is out of the bottle and executing these foundational elements of benefit design in a holistic manner will be key to attract, motivate and retain talent.

Now, more than ever before, is the time to connect with employee benefits that have the right impact.

Alexander Forbes Offshore is the registered trading name of Alexander Forbes Channel Islands Ltd and is regulated by the Jersey Financial Services Commission with registration number 9596.

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