This is compared to the 33% who were offered 0 benefits and shared the same sentiment.
Out of 5,200 employees surveyed across Asia, about seven in 10 (71%) feel that their employer cares about their health & wellbeing. Despite the majority agreeing as such, only 64% say the benefits they receive meet their needs.
As part of Mercer's Health on Demand 2023 study, the insights include responses from markets such as Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, India, and China.
To start off with a gauge of the current landscape, 44% of employees in Asia report feeling stressed in their everyday life. By region, Hong Kong employees (55%) felt the most stressed, while those in Singapore stood in the middle (40%), and Indonesia employees (26%) were least stressed.
Over half (55%) of the respondents in Asia cited work pressures as their top burnout factor, followed by poor leadership (39%), and job security (37%).
With this in mind, the study noted a significant difference in employees' sentiments based on the benefits their employer provides. Those who were offered more than 10 benefits from their employers were more likely to:
- Stay with their current employer (71%),
- Feel their employer cares about their health and wellbeing (93%),
- Feel that they were thriving in their current role ('thriving' is defined in the report as prospering in terms of health, wealth, and career) (86%), and
- Feel confident they can afford the healthcare they and their family need (94%).
Making benefits more holistic, inclusive, and impactful
As pointed out in the study, Generation Z (born between 1997 - 2012) are now entering the workforce equipped with many in-demand skills. In view of this, the study projects that this generation will comprise 27% of the workforce by 2025, bringing with them unique needs, experiences, and expectations that set them apart from all previous generations.
The study uncovered several innovative solutions that appealed to Gen Z:
- Home testing kits for common conditions (50%)
- Alternative mental health therapies (49%)
- Genetic test to reveal health risks and suggest lifestyle changes/screenings (48%)
- Preventive cancer screenings (48%)
- Virtual advice via chat (AI) for anxiety, sadness, or relationship issues (44%)
In this new working landscape, ongoing macro-economic, environmental, and political disasters have characterised the 2020s. Whether employees are worried about their personal safety or their ability to afford the basics, such as healthcare for their families, it is inevitable that these concerns will affect their wellbeing and their work performance, it was further highlighted.
In Asia, 67% feel that their employers would support them in an emergency. Interestingly, employees from Singapore were least likely to agree at 58%.
Digging deeper, the report identified the following polycrisis concerns for employee health & benefits managers to take note of:
- mental health deterioration,
- public infrastructure collapse,
- digital inclusivity,
- chronic health conditions, and
- cost of living, amongst other factors.
Amidst these changes, the report also revealed that employees expect their employers to take an active stance on societal issues — 49% of employees in Singapore (vs 43% in Asia) find it beneficial to get help with adopting an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Additionally, 54% stated that it is important for their employer to support women’s issues, 52% believed in the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and 51% felt their employer should focus on environmental sustainability.
One particular trend also emerged, shaped by COVID-19 — caregiver needs rose to the fore, and employers responded with a greater focus on flexible working, digital health, and family benefits. In Asia, caregivers (37%) were more likely to say that medical expenses have caused financial hardship for them or their families this past year compared to non-caregivers (15%).
The same trend is reflected in each Asian market:
- Singapore: 38% caregivers vs 15% non-caregivers
- Indonesia: 28% caregivers vs 23% non-caregivers
- India: 64% caregivers vs 30% non-caregivers
- Hong Kong: 28% caregivers vs 13% non-caregivers
- China: 19% caregivers vs 9% non-caregivers
Considering how the majority of employees were noted to be caregivers in most markets, employers now have an opportunity to build on that momentum and consider creative and innovative models of support for this dominant and critical group of employees.
As the study further suggests, employees are more likely to thrive when their basic needs are met. However, health and risk protection plans may exclude employee groups such as low-income or part-time workers, and in that light, under-protected groups are less likely to believe that their employers care about their wellbeing, and are less likely to thrive in their careers.
Adding to that, nearly one in three (31%) employees with below-median income are not confident that they can afford the necessary healthcare, compared to 16% of those from households with a median income or above who shared the same concerns.
Among other findings, it was affirmed that the more employers understand the needs of their employees, the better able they will be to make inclusive changes for meaningful impact.
What then, does a workplace with an inclusive health & benefits strategy look like? As showcased, it addresses or caters to the following:
- Differently-abled individuals
- Age/generation/life stages
- Background experience, industry
- Family status
- Single parents
- Income level
- Post-conflict individuals
- Thinking cycles
"Employers can ensure benefits meet their employees’ needs by addressing all employees’ life stages, understanding attitudes towards crises and health concerns, as well as targeting specific economic groupings and the many responsibilities that employees may have outside of work," the report noted.
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Lead image / Mercer Health on Demand 2023