A new report has shown that the majority of UK employers are failing to implement a comprehensive wellbeing strategy, despite wellbeing becoming increasingly important as a priority to businesses. 

New research conducted by Aon, a global professional services firm providing risk, retirement and health solutions, has shown that under half of employers (44 per cent) have a formal wellbeing strategy in place.

This is in spite of the effects of COVID-19 and various lockdowns which have taken a significant toll on the mental health of the UK’s workforce.

In addition to this, over a fifth (22 per cent) admitted that they did not intend to put a strategy into place within the next 12-18 months, potentially leaving employees unsupported during a time where the world of work is set to shift again.

Furthermore, even when wellbeing strategies are implemented, less than one in 10 employers (9 per cent) are actively measuring the return on investment from their wellbeing programmes, despite it being a crucial way to assess and tailor them to their employees’ needs.

Aon has stated that, due to employers not measuring wellbeing programmes, this makes it difficult for organisations to justify investment from senior staff and could be the reason that 70 per cent of employers do not have a designated budget for health and wellness.

The main metric now utilised to inform employer strategies is employee engagement surveys which has surpassed the use of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP).

When analysing which wellbeing strategies were the most popular, emotional and mental wellbeing strategies ranked first with over three-quarters of organisations (76 per cent) having one. In specific, over half of employers (59 per cent) implemented strategies for mental health.

Employee physical health was considered important by almost two-thirds of employers (61 per cent) who put a strategy in place to address this. However, in comparison to 2020 figures,  the number of employers doing so has fallen from 65 per cent.

Financial wellbeing was also a consideration with four in 10 employers (41 per cent) initiating wellbeing strategies linked to this. However, this was still significantly lower than expected as 61 per cent of employers agreed that they are responsible for influencing employee financial wellbeing.

Mark Witte, head of health and risk consulting, Health Solutions UK at Aon, said:

The fact that less than half of the employers we surveyed have a comprehensive wellbeing strategy in place is perhaps one of the key observations from this year’s survey. There is no shortage of investment in health and benefits generally, nor is there a lack of focus on specific support; however, overall, wellbeing activity all too often lacks strategic focus.

In light of COVID-19, it is encouraging to see that a third of respondents said they expected to make a greater investment in employee health in 2021. Research shows, however, that investment in services and benefits alone will not generate required outcomes. Our Rising Resilient study showed that resilience triples when employers adopt a well-rounded health and wellbeing programme supporting physical, social, emotional, financial and career needs. It’s therefore encouraging to see that 33 per cent of respondents intended to have a formalised health and wellbeing strategy in place in the next 12-18 months.


*This research was taken from Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends Survey 2021. Aon surveyed 332 HR, employee benefit and reward specialists across a range of industry sectors for its 11th UK Benefits & Trends Survey.