Are Singaporean employers doing enough when it comes to health and well-being programmes? It seems not. According to new research from Willis Towers Watson, local employers are still missing the mark, with many employees feeling that their needs are not being met.
When it comes to work-related health issues, Willis Towers Watson’s earlier 2017 Benefits Trends Survey found that almost half (44%) of local employers identified stress as the number one health issue. In the same vein, 60% of employees admitted to having above average or high levels of stress.
Despite this, the survey revealed only 27% of employers are actually taking action to reduce work-related stress.
Apart from work related stress, global findings revealed that stress can also arise from financial insecurity.
In Singapore, 27% of employees live paycheck to paycheck. Globally, half of employees are worried about their future financial state, up from 46% two years ago. While less employees are confident in having sufficient retirement resources 15 years into retirement – 68% in 2015 compared to 56% in 2017.
Perhaps for that reason, about three in 10 employees globally expect to work at age 70 or beyond. In Singapore, 15% of employees expect to do the same.
Further, while about half (51%) of employees said health care plans offered by employers meet their needs, only 36% felt the same for health and well-being initiatives.
The survey also revealed a disconnect on the ROI of well-being initiatives – 53% of employers believed their programs have encouraged staff to live healthier lifestyles, but only 34% of employees had the same sentiment.
While an increasing number of employers are putting more efforts in improving their health and well-being programs, Willis Towers Watson’s report noted there is still room for improvement.
Currently, 40% of employers revealed they don’t have an established health and well-being strategy today. While 73% revealed they will use their enhanced programs to differentiate themselves from other employers, and customise these programs for critical workforce segments by 2019.
Audrey Tan, head of health and benefits, Singapore, Willis Towers Watson, suggested employers rethink how their programmes create and encourage long-term behavioural changes.
“Critical to this is to ensure that they are centred on the employee. Employees do not want to be told what to do; rather, they want to be supported with programs that lead to improved well-being. It’s an essential balance that’s not very easy to achieve, but if companies can take care of their workforce, employees can in turn take care of the overall business and its performance,” Tan added.
A few ways employers can do so include leveraging on organisational analytics, financial incentives, and technology such as wearables.
Currently, six in 10 employees are already using technology to manage their own health. Just over four in 10 (45%) use wearables to monitor fitness activity or sleep, while 37% use technology to monitor a health condition, and 34% to track eating habits.
Globally, more than seven in ten employees (72%) said managing their health is a top priority, while 84% of employers said increasing employee engagement in health and well-being is a top priority for them.
Willis Towers Watson noted this alignment is a positive step in the right direction since employees in good or very good health are more productive in the workplace, as they are more engaged (33% and 37% respectively) compared to those in poor health (17%) and take less days off.