The Future of Workplace Health & Wellbeing

The European heatwave is a yet another stark reminder of the ways in which the world can change quickly and with an immense knock-on effect.

The Future of Workplace Health & Wellbeing

Tom Peters / Insight / 21 Jul 2022

For many, innovation is synonymous with new technologies that improve operational infrastructure or functions such as fulfilment, digital marketing or packaging. It’s also a way to spot growing trends or warning signs, and to prepare a plan of attack, well before you need it. Through our work helping businesses of all sizes in the retail and consumer sector do business better, protecting their bottom-line by embracing change with open arms, we’ve noticed a growing focus on innovation for employee welfare. It’s a key area that brands can prioritise to futureproof their businesses – which is why we hosted a Spotlight session on Workplace Health & Wellbeing earlier this year.

Wellbeing at work was already on an evolutionary journey before the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this change. With traditional ‘wellness’ benefits being offered at the turn of the century, there was significant change by the mid-2010s when there was recognition this simply wasn’t enough for retaining and attracting talent. These initiatives in isolation weren’t able to impact commercial objectives. With better access to data, it's become clearer that employers who take a more proactive approach can save on staff-related costs associated to churn and health absenteeism – in fact it’s been found that for every £1 spent on initiatives to help manage wellbeing, there is a return on investment of £5, (Mental Health and Employers Report 2020, Deloitte).

One of our portfolio brands, The Cotswold Company, is a great example of how a focus from the top down on employee welfare can have hugely positive results across a retailer with multiple functions: Customer Centres, Store Staff, Head Office and Warehouse and Logistics Operations. During the last three years they’ve introduced small changes that together have made a huge difference to employee happiness, ultimately leading to a low turnover rate of 3.75% which is well below industry average of 15%.

Today, we’re now seeing personalized and integrated offerings for staff as part of emerging innovation to make them happier, healthier and ultimately more productive. We’re actively encouraging our Corporate Partners and portfolio brands to think seriously about these horizon technologies from not only a commercial standpoint, but an ethical one too. Analytics, data and AI can now be harnessed in so many more ways, and investment in wellness is on the up, with the global industry forecasted to reach $96bn by 2030 (Precedence Research, 2022). The writing is on the wall: if an employer’s not going to invest in its employees’ welfare, a competitor will.

At True, we see wellbeing continuing to mature in various areas to help employees perform, and businesses to succeed. We’ve condensed into three key areas:

Ways of Working

Within retail there are hundreds of thousands of store staff across many sub-sectors. Within the industry there isn’t a one-sized-fits-all approach to improving ways of working, so we see this being a large innovation growth area, especially as analytics and AI improves. Quorso is a tool targeting Regional Store Managers which simplifies processes, reduces workload and prioritises workstreams across large store footprints. This results in hours of time saved per week, ultimately leading to happier, less stressed managers and better performing stores.

Mental Health

In the UK 50% of lost working days can be attributed to stress, anxiety or depression (HSE Health and Safety at Work report, 2021). While there is greater awareness around mental health today than just five years ago, it’s an issue True identified as one that was going to grow, prior to its investment in workplace mental health platform Unmind in 2017. Coming out of the pandemic, mental health is a key area of focus for many organisations.

The Tailored, Holistic Approach

As medical and scientific knowledge improves so will our approach to managing health and wellness. Holistic health platform Walking on Earth uses scientific knowledge and work-related data to link leading experts to employees with the right knowledge and tools to mitigate stress. We believe a preventative approach is the smartest choice to make for businesses to best support employees.

Today with organizations and people adapting to new ways of working, we believe investment in employee wellbeing will continue to evolve and grow as the benefits are exponential. This will happen despite (and perhaps even be accelerated by) the pressures from the macroeconomic environment. The power of tech, AI, data and insight will only serve to improve understanding and outcomes for both employers and employees.

Wellbeing packages are no longer just a ‘cherry on the top’ but a way to fundamentally improve how organizations function, by creating a happier, more connected and more productive workforce.