Should HR and People teams hire a health and wellbeing specialist?

Sairish Chechi
Published on 26th August 2020
3 min read

In a world where work-related stress, depression and anxiety are at an all-time high, wellbeing of employees should be a top priority for businesses.

Even before the pandemic, the Labor Force Survey (LFS) revealed that 602,000 workers in Britain were suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety. In 2018 to 2019, this resulted in 12.8 million working days lost to ill health, directly impacting productivity.

Among the most common causes of stress reported were lack of managerial support, role uncertainty, while far and away the largest cause of stress – accounting for 44% of all cases – was workload.

In addition, the global pandemic has heightened the need for health and wellbeing support. 43% of workers with a mental health condition and 29% of those with anxiety said the pandemic has contributed to or worsened their condition.  

So what role can the organization play in supporting employees, and is now the time to hire a health and wellbeing specialist?

Wellbeing support – the key to productivity?

Prioritizing your employees’ wellbeing is vital, no matter how you tackle it.

Not only is it simply the right thing to do, research has consistently proven a strong correlation between employee wellbeing and productivity, as well as improved employee retention and even customer loyalty.

Introducing desirable employee benefits is one way that HR and People leaders can actively encourage employee wellbeing and improve company culture. In fact, Willis Towers Watson reported that 75% of employees are more likely to stay with their employer if they are enjoying their current benefits.

One such benefit could be the introduction of a health and wellbeing specialist. Whether as a permanent hire, a consultant, or as an external service that employees can access in their own time, this role should be chosen with the intention to help employees manage stress, improve their mental health and achieve a better work-life balance.

What is a health and wellbeing specialist?

Health and wellbeing specialists are exactly that – experts hired as part of HR and People teams to help them identify, develop and maintain effective wellbeing strategies.

Some of the services provided by health and wellbeing specialists and services may include:

  • Painting a general picture of health and wellbeing across your business
  • Carrying out ongoing individual wellbeing assessments with employees
  • Implementing stress management strategies
  • Consulting on how to change and improve your company culture
  • Advising on the most appropriate healthcare products and services for your employees
  • Carrying out one-to-one counselling for employees and leaders
  • Providing training and support to help you manage health and wellbeing in the workplace

When choosing a new health and wellbeing specialist for your organization, you’ll want to be sure the specialist you’re choosing has the right level of experience for your organization. You should also consider whether the candidate have a track record of working with businesses of a similar size, culture and level of output as yours.

The importance of new HR skills – including health and wellbeing

The world of work continues to change and at pace. Over the past decade, technology, globalization and changing demographics have transformed the way we work, revealing many HR skills gaps in the process.

The changing face of HR, our research from 500 HR and People leaders, found over a third of companies worldwide plan to plug these gaps by hiring non-traditional HR and People roles, as an increasing number of organizations acknowledge the need to diversify their skillsets. In addition, a further 26% of respondents said they intend to bring in external consultants.

It seems HR and People leaders are shifting their focus towards building great employee experiences, and many are going about this by looking to improve health and wellbeing at work. While only 37% of our respondents told us they already offer holistic wellness programs, 47% say they are looking to within the next year.

Many organizations are looking to drive employee wellbeing through a new hire to the team. However, you could consider bringing in someone on a consultancy, contract or part-time basis to devise and implement wellbeing initiatives and bake them into your already existing HR strategy. 

By considering a health and wellbeing specialist, your organization has the ability to bridge any already existing gap in your organization’s health and wellbeing expertise and make sure your employees feel supported while they’re working for you.  

The impact on your people – and your business

Particularly now with more employees working from home, it has never been more important to consider the health and wellbeing of your people – and how your organization supports them, both inside and outside the confines of the office.

While supporting health and wellbeing are fundamentally a good thing to do, with lower levels of overall stress and an improved ability to manage stress, your workforce will be noticeably more engaged and productive.

Over time, as health and wellbeing become integral to your company culture, you may start to notice that talent retention goes up. Furthermore, talented people looking for an enjoyable working culture – plus benefits that suit their needs – will be more likely to see your organization as an employer of choice.

With the help of a health and wellbeing specialist, you could begin to recognize and cater to the changing expectations of your workforce, work to actively reduce employee absence and drive productivity – all by putting your employees and their health and wellbeing at the heart of your strategy.

If you’re looking for more key insights about upcoming transformations within the HR sector, explore our research report, The changing face of HR.

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