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This article is brought to you by Mercer.

The Mercer 2021 Health Forum attended by over 500 people, in person and online, put into full view how companies are dealing with the quandaries of workplace reinvention while coping with the new normal.

Two-thirds of (66%) Hong Kong office staff want to keep working from home, according to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index. Although overall engagement increased throughout the pandemic, it was not without cost. When posed with the question, “I feel reasonably balanced and healthy right now,” sentiment started to dip for individuals. The conundrum for employers in the future will be how to support their workforce remotely and keep them engaged while employees report more stress.

As workplace reinvention continues at a staggering rate so do HR healthcare policies need to keep pace. Here are four key trends every leader should be thinking about in their employee engagement strategy.

Wellness

The majority (55%) of employees see innovative health solutions to prevent or treat existing conditions as very valuable. Just under half of employees (48%) want resources to manage family responsibilities, wellness habits, and life goals and 50% want support with mental health resilience and personal relationship concerns.

Even though most employees have increased trust in their employer, in turn they expect more support. Trends around patient-centered healthcare, health engagement, and long-term overall physical health and mental wellness will continue to garner attention.

Such employee wellbeing programmes may contribute to improving employees’ health and wellbeing, driving down claims and, ultimately controlling premium costs.

Digital

Mental health is one of the most pressing issues of our time. The best way for organisations to tackle this immediate concern, especially during the pandemic, was to leverage the mobile phones that are already in employees' pockets. This allows access to global, on-demand multi-language care for employees from all walks of life.

The ability for corporate wellness solutions to be applicable for the whole region is changing the way that people approach wellbeing.

We will increasingly see more digital engagement in the future, whether it's virtual consultations, online counseling, or mindfulness and meditation apps. An individual approach will be the key to unlocking this trend. Not everyone has the same requirements so the ability for individuals to take care of their wellbeing and plan a roadmap for themselves will be a defining part of this digital trend.


ALSO READ: 5 experiences that drive how satisfied employees are with their HR departments


ESG-driven workforce

While environmental, social, and governance (ESG) is not new, it has been brought to the fore by the pandemic. ESG is rapidly gaining momentum and rising to the top of organisations’ agendas. 

“This is an interesting and challenging interplay for organisations, because the health of our planet is intricately linked to the health of our communities, and that is linked to the health of individuals and businesses in those communities,” said Vicki Fan, CEO, Mercer Hong Kong.

For companies, this means a complex set of challenges and efforts, particularly given that employee expectations are shifting as well. Employees are more interested in working for organisations that have a purpose aligned to their values - this trend increases in younger generations.

“Most boards are not mandating executives to have ESG targets yet, and where there is a target, the onus is often with CHROs,” said Fan.

“However we expect the trend to evolve, as more interest and attention are put on ESG and more ESG accountability is expected from the business and leadership.”

Insurance

“COVID-19 has accelerated the digitisation of the whole industry with an increasing demand for digital services, including telemedicine or simply, more digital claims,” said Richard Roper, Mercer’s Health and Benefits Business Leader, Hong Kong.

“While it’s been a tough year for businesses, with cost containment being a concern, talent protection and talent retention continue to be the main focus over rising benefits cost.”

This means flexible employee benefits in the future, where each employee is empowered to tailor-make their own programme depending on needs. In the future, insurance will need to go beyond paying claims but offer an ecosystem or medical journey for employees. 

COVID-19 has shifted many things in the workplace — none more so than employee healthcare and wellness. Where these may have previously been a luxury offered by top multinationals, they are now fast-becoming one of the most important and in-demand benefits to employees whoever they are across the world.

As talent, attraction and retention remain the most pressing issue for HR teams now and in the future, a strong employee healthcare strategy could make all the difference.


Photo / 123RF

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