7th February 2024
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UK employers ‘putting people ahead of profit’

Globally improving employee wellbeing factors can enhance company performance by at least 11 per cent and up to 55 per cent.

In the UK, research conducted by Aon as part of its 2022-2023 Global Wellbeing Survey found that company priorities have changed considerably since 2020. Attracting and retaining talent and employee wellbeing are now the highest priorities for companies, rating above meeting financial and shareholder needs.

Among global companies, 87 percent have at least one wellbeing initiative in place, compared to 92 percent of UK companies. However, 83 percent of companies globally – and 84 percent in the UK – reported having a wellbeing strategy.

Stephanie Pronk, senior vice president for Health Solutions at Aon, said: “Despite companies facing increasing volatility and uncertainty in the form of inflation, a global pandemic, changing workforce patterns and geopolitical conflict, the latest Global Wellbeing Survey demonstrates that employers are still focused on wellbeing, now more than ever. 

“Companies are building resilient workforces by increasing their commitment to employee wellbeing both in support and financial investment, which also helps to attract and retain talent. Wellbeing is far from being a niche issue – wellbeing programmes that are designed to address the diverse needs of employees can have wide-ranging beneficial impacts on an organisation.”

The top UK findings from the report include:

  • Employees ahead of profit: UK employers’ top three priorities are ‘attracting or retaining talent’, ‘employee wellbeing’ and ‘profits and financial margins’. In 2020, the priorities were ‘meeting financial targets’, ‘evolving market and meeting changing needs’ and ‘meeting customer needs’.
  • The UK has a wellbeing strategy gap: Although 74 percent of UK respondents say that wellbeing has increased in importance – compared to 63 percent globally – just 29 percent of UK companies say wellbeing is fully integrated into their overall business and talent strategy, compared to 41 percent of companies globally.
  • Shifting wellbeing risks: ‘Financial risk and stress’ is the third highest UK company wellbeing priority, after ‘mental and emotional health’ and ‘burnout/languishing’. Financial risk and stress was not listed as a concern for UK employers in 2020.

Dr Jeanette Cook, principal strategic consultant for Health Solutions at Aon in the UK, said: “It’s encouraging that UK employers are increasingly recognising wellbeing as a high priority, and many are incredibly progressive with strategies to support employees and their organisations as a whole. While profits and margins remain vital, there is growing accountability and understanding that managing people – attracting and retaining talent and then ensuring their wellbeing – are considered more important than ever before. Every organisation will have their own pressure points, so understanding context with robust data analysis provides clarity and confidence to make better decisions in this area.

“Interestingly, the survey also shows that respondents from UK tech firms have also shifted their priorities – which isn’t seen in the global data. Where ‘innovation’ remains in the top three priorities for employers in this industry, it now sits below ‘attraction and retention of talent’ and ‘employee wellbeing’, highlighting a step change in how employers are putting people first to better their organisations.”

Aon conducted the survey of human resources and benefits leaders from more than 1,100 companies across 46 countries and multiple industries in collaboration with IPSOS between August and November of 2022.

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