You have got that call to return, a dozen urgent emails to respond to, a podcast you have been meaning to listen to, seven breaking news alerts, three event requests to accept, 8764 steps still to walk, your latest online credit card statement to pay, five new LinkedIn requests… and it is not even nine a.m. Know the feeling?
On a day-to-day basis, benefits are likely the last thing on people’s minds as they navigate through seemingly endless sources of information. But while technology is guilty of contributing to our cognitive overload, it might also be the key to enhancing our wellbeing.
In the digital age, the creation of phones, tablets, and smartwatches has transformed our ability to consume information — both from a quantity and ease of access perspective. Employers should be taking advantage of this opportunity, by deploying more sophisticated digital solutions to engage with their employees. From gathering candidate insights during recruitment through to daily health monitoring, AI (Artificial Intelligence) is transforming the landscape for HRDs.
As more and more businesses look to develop meaningful benefits solutions, we explore how technology is helping to connect employees to the benefits they need, and incentivising them to make positive behavioural changes.
steps still to walk, your latest online credit card statement to pay, five new LinkedIn requests… and it’s not even nine a.m. Know the feeling?
Why wellbeing matters
Investing in the wellbeing of your workforce has never been more important. In an increasingly volatile landscape, employee benefits have become a useful tool in the recruitment and performance of our workforces.
Where salary and career progression would historically have been top of most candidate wishlists, the labour force is increasingly choosing to work for businesses whose values align with theirs. This was reflected in the 2020 Aon Ireland Employee Mindset study which identified employer values as a top-five differentiator for prospective employees.
Despite traditional factors such as higher than average pay, offering a fun place to work, and being a market leader or innovator currently ranking above shared values, as the value orientated Generation Z moves into the workplace this factor is set to increase in importance.
As we look forward, it is likely that the employees of the future will increasingly become more vocal about businesses prioritising their integrity and purpose, with more and more choosing to work for businesses that actively support their physical, social, emotional, professional and financial wellbeing.
Secondly, creating a culture of wellbeing makes good business sense. From a business management perspective, a healthy, happy workforce is likely to be more productive, creative, connected, and engaged. Simply put, investing in wellbeing reduces negative impacts from both regularly absent employees, and those who spend too much time at work due to job insecurity.
Incentivising behavioural change
Despite being inundated with advice about how to lead healthier lifestyles and make better choices through better diets, more exercise, adequate sleep, and proper relaxation, lasting behavioural change is hard.
Apps have become a great tool in our desire to improve our habits and monitor our progress. There are apps that can track your food consumption, encourage and enable daily meditations and improve mindfulness, as well as monitor your quality of sleep. But with the best intentions, we download apps — certain that this will be the ‘thing that works’ — only for us to neglect our newfound motivation, resigning such technology to the graveyard of apps cluttering our devices.
While apps have the power to kick-start individual behavioural change, the issue is maintaining motivation. And if employers are also using apps to improve staff wellbeing, how do they ensure these digital aids are being used effectively and for the long-term? Can employers harness the power of technology to build a workforce motivated to improve their wellbeing?
The team behind yulife, a leading provider of group insurance plans, believe they can. As well as providing group life insurance, critical illness, and income protection, yulife have developed an incentivised tool to help build workplace communities with a focus on personal wellbeing.
At the heart of yulife’s group life insurance is a gamified app, which syncs with leading apps and reward partners to make financial, mental, and physical wellbeing accessible, engaging, and fun. By doing simple physical and mental challenges such as walking, cycling, or being mindful on a daily basis, yulifers earn yucoins — a wellbeing currency they can spend with big brands or donate to charity.
Keith Bale, Head of Distribution at yulife explains why incentivising users and introducing healthy competition within company leaderboards is critical to engagement:
«When you feel you’ve earned something, you value it more. What’s important is to make the act of doing something and being rewarded simple, intuitive and joyous. This way the investment an employer makes in their people’s benefits and wellbeing is constantly realised on a daily basis.»
Keith Bale, Head of Distribution at yulife
of all members downloading the app
While gamification might notionally be considered more appealing to Gen Z and Millenials who are more acclimated with the digitisation of the workplace, incentivisation is proving to be appealing across demographic groups. 60% of people download and use the app, over 40% of daily challenges are taken by yulifers aged between 30-40, and over a quarter are taken by yulifers aged 40-50.
‘Tech is the great enabler here. It removes traditional barriers to wellbeing, like poor access, cost and poor motivation — allowing employers of all types and sizes to inspire and empower their people to be well. The real time data this smart tech delivers enables gamification to drive continuous and meaningful behavioural change — making wellbeing not only fun, but rewarding for both employers and their people.’
«The real time data this smart tech delivers enables gamification to drive continuous and meaningful behavioural change — making wellbeing not only fun, but rewarding for both employers and their people.»
Keith Bale, Head of Distribution at yulife
Tackling the risk factors
The Aon 2019 Global Medical Trend Rates Report uncovered that average medical costs are rising at a rate of 7.8% globally. Among the conditions causing this increase are chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes, but given that some illnesses are partially manageable, the motivation for employers to support the physical health of their workforces is clear.
Providing a gym membership is not enough. A real commitment to improving the health and fitness of your workforce should include creating a culture that actively supports and embraces it. For example, encouraging employees to develop lunchtime walking groups, promoting healthy food choices in canteens, or offering fitness trackers to support greater movement and better quality sleep.
The changes in our patterns of work are also presenting new challenges for employers in terms of managing the health and wellbeing of employees. The COVID-19 pandemic tested this factor to the extreme, with many parents simultaneously home-working and actively parenting for an extended period.
Technological advances have removed barriers to flexible working, and more companies are actively encouraging remote working as a result of successful pandemic lockdown tests. And research supports such moves. A Gallup poll identified that remote working has a positive impact on productivity, while professionals who spend 60-80% of their time working remotely reported being the most engaged with their work.
But at what cost is this to the personal wellbeing of employees? The Modern Workplace Report by Global Web Index suggests that those who work remotely are working harder and longer; checking emails outside of work hours more frequently, juggling more projects, and working later.
Having the ability to send timely, relevant reminders to employees to take a break, do some mindful breathing, access coaching, and complete a digital fitness workout could be hugely beneficial to employee wellbeing, but is perhaps even more pertinent when it comes to agile working.
Why getting the right benefits is so important
Having access to powerful data-driven insights about your workforce is critical when it comes to designing a benefits program that truly understands employee needs.
Matthew Lawrence, Chief Broking Officer for Aon EMEA Health Solutions, explains why access to data about employee health should be driving people management strategies:
‘By looking at data across the full health spectrum, employers will be able to identify what is driving their costs, understand and segment their key risks, and develop a clear strategy around what and where to target. If this is underpinned by a clever health communications and engagement approach, then the chances of this working will be increased significantly.’
Meaningful benefit design is about devising a programme of benefits that your employees actually want to engage with, but one that also limits your people risk exposures. In building a risk management strategy around your people you can make more effective use of your spend. By identifying areas of duplication or waste you can redirect your spend into benefits that are most relevant and rewarding to both employers and employees.
Matthew also suggests that businesses should be reconsidering their approach to the design of meaningful benefits for employees:
«Businesses should be building a comprehensive benefits program around managing and mitigating risk, which ranges from prevention, to support, to protection solutions. If you were starting afresh, you wouldn’t necessarily start with products in mind. You would start with understanding risk and building up — potentially ending with an insurance product that meets your employees exacting needs.»
Matthew Lawrence, Chief Broking Officer for Aon Health Solutions
Make it accessible, relevant and personalised
Developing benefits that deliver true value requires a comprehensive and holistic approach. You cannot view your workforce’s physical, social, emotional, professional, and financial wellbeing in isolation since they are so intrinsically linked.
Instead, devising personalised, flexible benefits enables your people to access what is most relevant to them. Combining this with incentivised, simple, and fun technology can also encourage more meaningful and consistent engagement with these benefits.
The Well One app from Aon can do just that; offering your employees the ability to measure and manage their wellbeing, connect with their colleagues, and earn rewards and recognition in a simple way.
All the while, you can gain powerful data-driven insights via employee health scores that bring focus and clarity to your business strategies, reduce risk, and drive healthy behaviour change across your organisation.
A resilient workforce is one that can deliver the productivity, innovation, and creativity your business needs. With so many benefits outlined for the current and future workforce, can you afford not to reap the benefits of joining the rising resilient businesses?
Discover the impact of a more purposeful approach to wellbeing at work by speaking to one of our advisors.