Two-thirds of employers in Singapore are prioritising integrating employee well-being into their benefits package, according to a recent study by Willis Towers Watson. They're doing it to address stress and burnout: where physical well-being might once have been the focus, 69% are now making their workforce's emotional well-being their top priority over the next two years, followed by physical well-being (59%) and social well-being (45%).
The shift to emphasise emotional well-being is matched by data showing that almost half the organisations studied are planning to add or enhance their health care benefits throughout the next two years, according to Audrey Tan, Head of Health & Benefits, Singapore at WTW. “Employees’ stress, burnout and mental health issues exacerbated by the pandemic continue to be the main workforce concern of employers. Fostering employee wellbeing and resilience therefore remain a top employer priority for the foreseeable future," she said.
The study found that 39% of employers plan to look for opportunities to build employee resilience and 37% intend to measure the stress level of the workforce and other leading causes of it, which data they will presumably use to identify how to better alleviate it. Some employers are also looking into the use of online medical services that can aid mental or behavioural health, and 42% are considering training managers to identify and assist employees with their well-being - although the study does not single out the extent to which such training might encompass emotional well-being.
Employers are also looking into how to support their employees' physical, financial, and social well-being. 32% are planning to use mobile apps to drive physical well-being and also sponsor programmes that target specific cases or chronic conditions. 29% are planning to offer employees access to life or critical illness insurance for themselves and/or dependents. And 26% are looking at social recognition as a way to improve employees' response to well-being activities.
WTW's data shows that the emphasis on emotional well-being is driven partly by the pandemic - WTW's 2021 Global Benefit Trends Survey found earlier this year that 66% of employers across the Asia Pacific say that pandemic-exacerbated stress, burnout, and mental health issues are a key workforce challenge.
In Singapore, though, it's also part of a years-long push to get local employers to pay more attention to the mental health of workers. Just last November, the Ministry of Manpower together with the Singapore National Employers Federation and the National Trades Union Congress issued a tripartite advisory on mental well-being at workplaces, complete with detailed recommendations for HR policies and a list of service providers for Employee Assistance Plans.