If you've been hearing more about wellbeing of late - you may be on to something. In fact, it has appeared in the list of the top four priorities of about 100 Singapore employers when it comes to their employee benefits strategies from now till 2022.
In specific, these priorities, as provided in Willis Towers Watson's latest 2019/2020 Benefit Trends Survey, include:
- A focus on aligning their benefits provisions with both the market norms and their employees' needs and wants (69%);
- Incorporating wellbeing into the organisation's overall benefit strategy (62%);
- Enhancing work policies (57%); and
- Incorporating diversity and inclusion into their benefits programmes (56%).
In line with the above, the survey found that employers in Singapore are now expanding their focus to address emotional, financial and social wellbeing, apart from simply focusing on physical wellbeing.
These initiatives include identifying and managing behavioural health, stress and issues to maintain stability of mind and body of employees across the workforce; implementing solutions to improve the financial health of the workforce; and introducing ways to promote a sense of involvement around health and financial issues.
At the same time, two in five employers are also looking to add or enhance chronic disease management and mental health programmes in their organisations.
These priorities come on the back of three primary challenges that employers see on the horizon (over the next three years).
Firstly, a majority foresee rising benefit costs as a key challenge (73%).
Further, nearly seven in 10 (66%) cited the differing needs and wants of a multi-generational workforce, while just under half (46%) expect to see a lack of employee engagement with their benefits programmes.
Elaborating on this, Cedric Luah, Managing Director, Head of Health & Benefits for Asia and Australasia, Willis Towers Watson, noted on the differing expectations that the five generations comprising the workforce today have, and how they would like to receive or consume their benefits.
Thus, he said this calls for a flexible approach to benefit strategies that reflects the needs of all employees, maximises inclusivity and engagement, while ensuring the employee population feels valued.
"While controlling costs remains their top challenge, employers are increasingly focused on a broader benefit strategy that goes beyond their core health and retirement offerings.
"In addition to the traditional emphasis on plan design and cost management, companies are now looking for ways to better connect with employees to meet the benefit needs of a diverse workforce and get the most value for their benefit spend."
Going forward, Audrey Tan, Head of Health & Benefits for Singapore, Willis Towers Watson, commented on all of these factors presenting a challenge for employers when modernising their benefits, as they need to create a portfolio of benefits that is relevant across a variety of employee groups and ages, flexible yet strong enough to be a significant attraction and retention factor for employees.
She added: "Highly effective organisations should incorporate a more holistic communication strategy as part of their benefits review. This will ensure that the value of benefits is being brought across more effectively to employees. "
Bonus snapshot: Key priorities in selected APAC countries
About the 2019/2020 Benefit Trends Survey The survey was conducted in May and June 2019. Respondents totalled more than 4,300 companies from 88 countries, including 16 markets in Asia Pacific, comprising close to 100 organisations in Singapore.
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