Don’t let wellbeing cost perceptions impede SME recovery, says Health Shield

Pippa Adams, CEO at Prodo

Almost half (48%) of SME employers say cost is the main barrier to them not implementing broader health and wellbeing support, according to research by Health Shield. This comes at a time, as employers look towards business recovery and a wider return to work, when the top priority for 99% of companies is to engage employees with benefits. Yet only 43% have a strategy.

“There is a duty of care to provide such support. Moreover, business recovery post lockdown rests on having happy, healthy and engaged employees in place,” says Jennie Doyle, Head of Marketing at Health Shield. “And when you consider the amount SMEs spend on ad hoc rewards, it might be simply that support with structuring a more tailored, sustainable and outcomes focused programme is required.”

Medium sized companies (50-249 employees) spend £1,078.40 per employee per year on one-off rewards, such as celebrations and vouchers.

“It’s concerning that there seems a lack of understanding by employers of what their wellbeing support could and should look like,” adds Jennie.

“For a fraction of what they spend on one-off rewards, they could have a wellbeing programme in place that provides ongoing value. For example, Health Shield’s wellbeing proposition Breeze costs from £5.50 per employee per month, is available to companies from just 50 employees, and gives the entire workforce 24/7 access from any digital device direct to many valuable wellbeing services that are designed to encourage self-care, such as a virtual GP, on-demand physio, health assessments, a mental health app (Thrive), counselling, perks and rewards, and more.

“At the same time, employers receive support with onboarding, employee insight gathering to help personalise the service, anonymous MI reporting and flexible and tiered benefit options.”

Lack of mutual understanding
Meanwhile, Health Shield’s research1 also found clear discrepancies between employer and employee views of existing wellbeing support: 78% of employers think they are ‘effective’ in ensuring employees know where to go to get support but only 58% of employees agree.

Also, almost 20% more employers (51%) than employees (33%) would give their support a top three rating (i.e. 8-10).

Jennie says engagement must begin with employee insight gathering: “The research results help show what happens when employers don’t listen to their employees. They end up with a benefit programme that they think is totally fit for purpose but, in truth, they have no idea whether it really meets their employees’ wants and needs. Consequently, employees don’t value what’s available to them.”

Case study – Prodo
Chester-based digital marketing agency Prodo put in place Health Shield’s Breeze for all its employees earlier this year in response to the change in working arrangements as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. They wanted to ensure they could provide wellbeing support virtually.

Pippa Adams, CEO at Prodo, commented: “As an SME, we need a solution that supports our team’s overall wellbeing whilst still being cost effective. The reporting functionality as part of Breeze means we can assess the value it is providing to both our people and our business.

“We can look at how many people are actively engaging with the services, identify any areas where staff feel they need extra support and look at the underlying reasons. For example, is a particular issue seasonal and / or related to business cycles. The insights for the leadership team are very helpful and allow us to tailor our wellbeing strategy to the current needs of the team, so we can have a plan of action for improvements based on evidence.”