Author: Sean Moore
Zurich's Global Employee Benefit Solutions Conference in New Jersey, United States, connected and engaged thought leaders from around the world to discuss innovation within global employee benefits. It brought together Zurich partners and clients with topics ranging from workforce trends to Environmental, Sustainability and Corporate Governance (ESG).
However, critical discussions centered around the wellbeing of employees within organizations — including the session titled Wellness and the Future of Work — How to Motivate Employees to Make Sustainable and Relevant Wellbeing Changes. During this panel discussion, Gallagher's Multinational Benefits and HR Senior Consultant Sean Moore spoke with Matt Girard-Reydet from Lonza and Will Nihan from LiveWell by Zurich. The most popular question was:
While the panel had a lively discussion on this topic, there were three key takeaways:
1. Employees hold the key to the success for organizational wellbeing
The first step to create value is deciding if the wellbeing solutions offered are ones that the employees truly want. If they don't value the solution, they're less likely to participate. According to Gallagher's 2022 Workforce Trends Report, "The era of standardized employee benefit and wellbeing solutions is over. Responsiveness to the diverse benefit interests of the workforce is a prerequisite for meeting attraction and retention objectives. Employees now drive the wellbeing discussion, and employers look for whatever it takes to connect them to the organization. Flexibility and lifestyle needs have emerged as core factors."
Sean encouraged employers to review their benefit plans and conduct a gap analysis. In doing so, organizations can decipher what's missing to help ensure that the wellbeing of all employees is cared for.
2. Communication drives utilization of wellbeing benefits
Consistent commitment to communication is key. Sean stressed the importance of this commitment and noted that awareness and actions drive engagement while giving a level of genuineness that the company cares about individual wellbeing — not just medical claims costs. Further, employees may not need all wellbeing solutions offered at any given moment — like Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Therefore, frequent communication is critical for use and employee support, especially when it comes to mental health.
As Gallagher's 2022 Workforce Trends Report says, "Almost a third of employers (32%) upgraded their wellbeing initiatives again this year. An elevated interest surrounds emotional wellbeing and mental health, and importantly, includes communicating effectively with employees to better understand and respond to their needs. A remarkable 79% of employers have boosted their support for emotional wellbeing since 2020."
A data-driven, multi-channel communication strategy sets the foundation for engaging the workforce more widely and targeting their needs more specifically.
3. International employees benefit from local support
As a multinational consultant, Sean notes the importance of having a global program with local support — that means boots on the ground implementing the wellbeing programs that are culturally appropriate and relevant. This relevancy is what drives engagement.
Organizations must partner with resources — such as insurers, consultants and brokers — who are located where their people are, who advise from a culture aspect. For example, EAP participation may be higher in the United States at a U.S.-based company than at their regional site in Asia. Encouraging participation of the Asia-based facility by sending a standardized email from the U.S. will likely result in low utilization of the EAP. Sean's suggestion of involving the support of a local champion, combined with corporate initiatives to encourage participation, will be far more effective.
Organizations must take into account diversity on all levels. Whether in multichannel communications (such email, text or even posters in the lunchroom), or multi-dimensions of health (such as physical health, financial health, and career health), employers need to meet their people where they are. Global platforms are a great way to do this.
Sean's advice to organizations managing wellbeing programs on a global scale was, "Having the right platform solutions or technology tactics to encourage your people wherever they are — both physically and in regards to their holistic wellbeing — can have an effective impact and make change."