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Only 22% of staff in Singapore are satisfied with their health and wellness benefits

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Despite the majority of business in Singapore (93%) wanting employees to prioritise their physical and mental health over work, most employees do not believe the current support they are offered is good enough.

According to Aetna International's recent Business of Health 2020 report, titled "Tackling polarised perceptions of corporate health and wellness", only 22% of employees rated the availability of health and wellness benefits as good. The same proportion (22%) of employees also rated the current support as poor.

When it came to support for stress, while 43% agreed that existing support is adequate, even more employees (37%) rated access to direct support as poor. Similarly, about a third (34%) of employees rated their company's current mental health support as poor.

A different picture was painted when HR directors and employers were surveyed, with almost two thirds (60%) of HR directors rating the availability of health and wellness benefits as good, highlighting the gap in perception between HR and employees.

Further, a majority of employers (68%) felt that enough is being done to support stressed employees and only 12% of employers rated access to direct support for stress as poor. Similarly, only 18% of employers rated the company's current mental health support as poor.

Derek Goldberg, Managing Director of Aetna International, APAC, said: "We are seeing a clear gap emerging both globally and in Singapore between the level of corporate health and wellness support that businesses believe they are providing, and the perceptions of their workforces. This misalignment may be having an impact on employee well-being and business productivity."

Employees in Singapore most concerned about stress and mental health

When asked about their concerns regarding their future health, stress was ranked as their top concern, with 88% of employees indicating some level of concern that it could one day impact their ability to work.

This was followed by mental health issues (85%), and serious physical illnesses such as cancer (84%).

The same top three concerns extended to the physical and mental health of a close family member, with 87% of employees believing that family ill health could impact their ability to work.

Significantly, two-thirds (67%) of workers stated that they would not join a company if it did not have a clear policy on supporting those with mental health issues, including stress, anxiety or depression, reflecting the priorities of today's jobseekers.

A key benefit Singaporean employees want is flexible working hours

Of the benefits and policies employees felt will help improve their health and well-being, flexible working hours is cited as the top benefit by 65% of workers. Yet only 13% of HR directors believe this benefit has a positive impact on employee attraction and retention.

Apart from flexible working hours, employees cited stress reduction programmes and services as their second preferred benefit (45%), followed by access to gym at work (44%).

Overall, a comprehensive health package was seen to have the biggest positive impact on the ability to attract (32%) and retain (33%) employees by businesses, outside of salary and job role specifics. This is followed by:

Employee recruitment:

  • Annual leave entitlement (27%)
  • Flexible working policies (10%)
  • Geographical location (8%)
  • Positive work culture (6%)
Employee retention:
  • Annual leave entitlement (20%)
  • Flexible working policies (13%)
  • Geographical location (4%)
  • Positive work culture (9%)
Goldberg said: "Offering tailored health and wellness benefits and support in the workplace are becoming as vital as policies around sick leave, major illnesses and holiday time. Data from this report indicates that Singapore-based companies can benefit from reviewing their current corporate well-being programmes, and doing more to better understand the needs of their evolving workforces.

"In supporting a future-ready economy, it is imperative that we look beyond the physical well-being, and emphasise the importance of a healthy mental and emotional state of mind. By giving employees the tools to be successful in achieving their well-being goals, organisations stand to benefit from improved performance and ensure that they’re equipped to keep pace with tomorrow’s demands."

Other findings from Aetna International's report were: 

  • Over half (54%) of employees thought they don’t get enough sleep. While the average number of hours of sleep per night is 7.3 hours, this reduces to 5.3 hours for quality sleep.
  • The top five reasons employees were not getting enough sleep are job stress (34%), long working hours (30%), usage of electronics in bed (24%), financial concerns (21%), and not doing enough exercise (19%).
  • 74% of HR directors thought it difficult to keep benefits packages current.
  • 40% of HR directors were unsure of what employees want from the company.
  • 44% of HR directors were concerned about the cost implications of employee health and wellness.
  • 71% of HR directors felt they are increasingly expected to do more with less time.
  • 91% of HR directors believe that compliance with new laws and regulation is an ongoing challenge.
Photo / iStock

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