UK employers yet to go extra mile for employee wellbeing
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Worklife balance

Despite calls for greater mental health awareness and work-life balance in business, few UK employers are advertising employee wellbeing support as a “perk” of employment, an analysis of online vacancies has found.

As the working world reopens and companies look to fill vacancies left by the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, online job advertisements are competing to attract top talent with a variety of “added bonuses”.

An analysis of 1,000 online vacancies found that, despite the covid-19 pandemic reinforcing the importance of work-life balance and employee mental health and wellbeing, just 8% of online job adverts mention employee wellness programmes as a workplace benefit.

The analysis also found that just 0.8% of new employees can access a 24/7 first aid response for physical and mental ailments, and only 0.4% had a dedicated mental health support service. Other wellbeing-focused benefits listed include, healthcare (3%), annual flu jabs (0.5%), yoga sessions (0.4%), and access to free counselling services (0.2%).

“After spending months cooped up indoors, having a healthy work-life balance is more important than ever,” said Ceri Henfrey, chief operating officer at Moneypenny, which undertook the analysis.

“We believe that one of the ways to help keep your staff happy is to provide them competitive and useful benefits that will enhance their experience working for you.”

Moneypenny said it had expected employers “to go the extra mile” and extend support during mental health and emotional struggles, but found just 0.1% of companies offered a crucial benefit of “child loss time off”.

The analysis of online job listings revealed the five most commonly offered work benefits to be a pension (in 41% of vacancies), the ability work from home (22%), gym membership (12%), flexible working (11%), and sick pay (11%).

However, under UK law, retirement pay, holiday pay, sick pay, maternity and paternity pay, and the right to request flexible working are all benefits employers must offer their staff.

A subsequent poll found that sick pay (52%), a pension (51%), and flexible working hours (46%) were considered “mandatory” employment benefits by 1,000 UK office workers.

Surveyed workers also viewed free eye tests (38%); the ability to work from home (37%); maternity/paternity and adoption leave (36%); time in lieu (35%); kitchen facilities, tea, and coffee (35%); training and ongoing professional development (34%); and death in service insurance (31%) as perks employers should provide their staff.

The analysis of vacancies and polling of workers raise questions as to whether employers are being honest with prospective recruits about in-job perks and whether workplace benefits line up with workforce expectations. For example, while company events (11%), casual dress (10%), and bike-to-work schemes (7%) were listed as perks by employers, employees did not feel the same.

When broken down by generation, the survey results show that boomer workers prefer to have a pension (60%), sick pay (48%), and flexible working hours (38%). These priorities are also reflected across all of the other age groups, with Gen Z being the exception.

The top three perks currently enjoyed by Gen Z workers are in-work training, child-loss time off, and on-site parking, while a majority of respondents would like to have weekly drinks and business travel as a workplace benefit.