New research by Gympass in collaboration with People Management Insights indicates that employers are trapped in a ‘workplace first’ mentality. 

The survey, which was completed in June 2022 and surveyed UK HR leaders, found that:

  • 90% of employers feel their wellbeing culture can be improved
  • 84.7% admitted their wellbeing culture was ‘average’ or ‘below average’
  • Fewer than 20% of employees are enrolled on physical wellbeing offerings
  • Nearly 50% of employers cited an increase in Mental Health Champions as a key change in their wellbeing strategy since the pandemic

Having a rigorous workplace wellbeing strategy has been vital to any successful business for decades, but since the pandemic, the health and wellness of the workforce has been under the microscope to a greater degree. Despite this, a new survey from People Management Insights, which worked alongside corporate wellbeing partner Gympass, has found that only 10% of employers feel their workplace culture is ‘excellent’.

The research revealed that employers are being more reactive than proactive when it comes to corporate wellbeing. The top two strategies were providing policies in response to life events (77.6%) and offering counselling services (61.8%).

“Traditionally organisations have taken a reactive approach to wellbeing, through a ‘find-and-fix’ mentality, as we can see by these figures. However, we cannot underestimate the fact that employers that create a culture of care will see happier employees, which in turn will lead to more engaged and productive teams.” says Workplace Wellbeing expert, Karl Simons, OBE.

Simons continues, The hope is that these figures will lead more companies to understand the benefits of adopting a proactive approach and move towards a ‘predict-and-prevent’ culture.” 

On a more positive note, the survey found that over 50% of the employers increased their wellbeing spend in the last two years with nearly half of employers also having appointed Mental Health Champions in the workplace. This indicates that businesses are becoming far more adept at offering mental health support. No doubt triggered by the impact of the pandemic, this intervention came second only to the ever-popular ‘cycle to work’ scheme, which is offered by 61.9% of employers.

A worrying finding was that employee engagement in wellbeing offerings was very low. Of those who do have a workplace health and wellbeing strategy in place, fewer than 20% of employees are actually enrolled or actively engaged in available programmes.

Luke Bullen, Head of UK & Ireland at Gympass says, “When businesses first come to us, one of their main concerns is that they have wellbeing benefits available, but many of their employees do not know about them or utilise them. We work with businesses to give employees access to benefits they’ll actually use – like Barry’s Bootcamp classes or Calm memberships, because market research shows they value these branded offerings.

“We also feel that with the current cost-of-living crisis, employers have a golden opportunity to really add value to their employees’ day to day lifestyle, outside of the workplace. Bullenadds, “By creating workplace wellbeing packages that support them even when they’re not working, it allows employees to cut back on their own personal expenditure on things such as gym memberships, fitness classes and even counselling. In the current climate, that’s a great employee benefit to have.” 

All in all, it seems that employers are aware of the value of corporate wellness plans but seem unable to implement them sufficiently to engage their employees.

“We know that the introduction of health and well-being initiatives can increase the engagement rate within a company. This in turn has an impact on breaking down barriers that may exist between teams. If businesses turn the current ‘work first’ approach on its head and introduce ‘people first’ physical and mental wellbeing services, I believe they will see better engagement and overall improvement in uptake and satisfaction of their corporate wellbeing policy. After all, good health & well-being is good business.” Simons adds.  

Lisa Baker

Author Lisa Baker

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