Article: Wellbeing proposition: A yawning gap between what employers offer and what employees expect

Employee Engagement

Wellbeing proposition: A yawning gap between what employers offer and what employees expect

2022 Wellbeing and Voluntary Benefits Survey by global HR benefits and human resource consulting firm Buck reveals a significant gap between employer and employee perceptions of wellbeing and areas in need of greater support.
Wellbeing proposition: A yawning gap between what employers offer and what employees expect

Employers are increasingly focused on mental health issues, prioritizing programs that address issues caused by stress, anxiety/depression, and burnout. However, despite these efforts, 21% of employees indicate their mental health has worsened in the last year, and only 28% view existing employer mental health resources as "helpful."

These are the findings of 2022 Wellbeing and Voluntary Benefits Survey by global HR benefits and human resource consulting firm Buck. The findings show a significant gap between employer and employee perceptions of wellbeing and areas in need of greater support. 

Employers rate the overall wellbeing of their workforce well above employee assessments, and employers are four times more likely than employees to view their organizations as having significantly increased their level of commitment to promoting employee wellbeing.

Perception gap: 68% of employers say they have enhanced their wellbeing value proposition "as a result of the pandemic," yet barely half (51%) of employees say, "My employer is more focused on my total wellbeing."

Wellbeing gap: Employees rate their overall wellbeing lower than employers' perceptions of their ratings in nearly all categories: Financial (-23%), social (-23%), physical (-17%), and mental (-14%).

Priorities gap: Both employers and employees cite mental wellbeing as a high priority, but employers consistently underrate financial wellbeing stressors, while employees' rate this as a top concern. Overall, less than a third of employees view employer resources as helpful for meeting their top priorities.

Looking ahead, employers plan to focus their investment in physical wellbeing initiatives (95%), but employees say what they need most are programs that support their financial wellbeing. 

Only 43% of employees rated themselves as "financially healthy", against 66% of employers who think their workers are financially sound. More than half of employees feel they live paycheck to paycheck, and a third are unsure of how well they're managing their money.

Ruth Hunt, a Principal in Buck's Engagement practice and co-author of the report, says benefits play a critical role in supporting workforce health and productivity and are increasingly becoming a deciding factor as employees consider alternate employment opportunities. 

"We found that key drivers of employee retention include employees' perceptions of their organization's commitment to their overall wellbeing, diverse benefit options, and effective communications that raise awareness of their employer's offerings. To continue to attract and retain top talent, it's critical for employers to implement and promote programs that address whole-person wellbeing and substantively close the gap between management perceptions and employee realities," adds Hunt.

“Since the start of the pandemic, a majority of employers report they have boosted their wellbeing support after witnessing the struggles faced by employees. It's concerning, but maybe not surprising, that many employees still rate themselves as less than fully healthy when assessing their mental, social, physical, and financial health. And we found that 35% of employees are actively looking for a new job," adds Tom Kelly, a Principal in Buck's Health practice and co-author of the report. 

The survey responses were collected from 218 employer participants and 683 employees in November 2021. Both the employer and employee samples are representative of large US employers. 

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Corporate Wellness Programs

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