‘Wellness’ key to luring talent

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    Management consultant Willis Towers Watson said 85 percent of Philippine companies intend to use wellbeing programs as an attraction to compete for talent.

    Willis Towers Watson’s new “Wellbeing Diagnostic Survey” showed that about 83 percent of employers have cited rising stress as the top wellbeing concern for the workforce.

    The survey tapped into the perspectives of 122 companies in the Philippines to better understand organizations’ approaches to wellbeing in the workplace, and were surveyed between October and November last year.

    “While stress has always been an issue, this has become more severe compared to five years ago (at 73 percent) as it has been further aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which pushed many into isolation, poor health and even unemployment,” it said.

    “The senior leadership of companies are genuinely interested in the health and wellbeing of their employees and families. Five years ago, over half of the employers in the Philippines indicated that, while they offered various programs, they did not have a formally articulated wellbeing strategy. Today, not only do many employers have a strategy in place, 85 percent plan to use it as a differentiator to compete for talent in three years,” said Susan La Chica, Willis Towers Watson head of health and benefits, Philippines.

    “The focus on mental and emotional wellbeing has also been elevated upon the release of the Mental Health Act of 2017 with DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) DO (Department Order) 208 in 2020, which mandates private sector employers to provide a certain level of support to employees around their mental health,” she added.

    La Chica said with wellbeing becoming a major focus for companies, employers are increasingly taking a holistic proposition, making the different aspects of employee wellbeing an important priority for their organizations over the next three years, going beyond physical wellbeing (98 percent) to emotional (98 percent), financial (83 percent) and social aspects (89 percent).

    “The pandemic has taken its toll on employees, especially in terms of their physical and emotional wellbeing. In fact, the impact is so great that many employers expect these effects will continue in a post-vaccine environment,” said Dr. Demosthenes Villarin Jr., Willis Towers Watson medical director and head of business development for health and benefits, Philippines.

    “Fragmented programs that act as band aids for short-term concerns are no longer sufficient. Many employers are now acting with urgency as they look to take their wellbeing programs to the next level and also address the changing needs and demographics of today’s employees,” added Villarin.

    Willis Towers Watson said when it comes to measuring the success of their wellbeing programs, the survey found that majority of employers are adopting employee listening strategies to get to the heart of employees’ needs and wants (81 percent), while 76 percent use claims data to assess utilization of services, drug compliance and gaps in care.

    Moreover, the percentage of employers who use a value-on-investment approach to measuring success has increased from 11 percent in 2015 to 26 percent in 2020.

    “With both costs and employee workforce risks such as stress rising, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the investment into wellbeing goes to the right places. And while there’s still room for improvement, it’s clear that employers understand the need to measure their programs using both financial as well as non-financial metrics,” Villarin said.

    Rather than just measuring the utilization or cost, Villarin noted the need for companies to know what employees think of their benefits, how they use the tools and materials provided, how engaged they are with programs organized, among others.

    “The pandemic has created an opportune time for companies to focus on developing a longer-term health and wellbeing roadmap. A proactive and holistic approach to strengthening the health and wellbeing ‘core’ is required to produce a positive business impact,” La Chica said.

    The survey also revealed that when it comes to effectively executing a wellbeing strategy, rising costs are cited as the top challenge (69 percent), in line with findings from previous studies.

    Likewise, half of employers mentioned the lack of data to measure outcomes and behavior change (50 percent), while a third cited the lack of appropriate technology (35 percent).