Carl Chapman, associate & head of workplace health, Barnett Waddingham writes a blog series explaining what wellbeing really means
Barnett Waddingham's Carl Chapman is writing a blog series on Eudaimonia using the Greek alphabet as a reference point to give insight into how this old concept can significantly improve your business performance by maximising output from your greatest asset.
Ε ε – epsilon
The main focus of this entire blog series is to dispense with the old fashioned blanket approach to wellbeing and using a refreshing new concept, Eudaimonia; get to the heart of what human flourishing is and how we can support our employees, helping them to flourish both personally and professionally.
The late mathematician Paul Erdos used the term “epsilons” to refer to his children. As employers we must not make the mistake of treating our employees like children. In the alpha blog I discussed the nature of paternalism and how it fundamentally represents a parent child relationship between employer and employee. If we wish to maximise the return from our employees and help them to flourish professionally, we must remove the shackles and engage with them as adults.
As I have mentioned previously, surveying employees is a great start to building up a picture of the risks that exist within the workforce. However, it is important to not just do this by treating the workforce as one single entity, but we must break down the analysis into different demographics to gain better insight.
This approach then enables us to make the strategy more fluid targeting specific parts to those who need it; after all if you push the wrong message to the wrong people they will resent it and it will likely negatively affect their engagement.
Nothing evidences this more than the world of pensions. For far too long, pension communications have been pushed on employees with little regard for the appropriateness of these communications. Pensions are incredibly important, but trying to push the message of increased contributions and investment choices to someone fresh out of university with student debt and a house to save for is ridiculous. Is it any wonder engagement with pensions for certain age groups is low?
The same could be said of many other benefits, but the key is to push the solution at the particular problem and only where it exists.
Ζ ζ – zeta
Wow, this is getting tough now. Zeta Warrior Princess? Is that close enough? Only one consonant out!
Let’s forget about zeta for the time being and let’s focus on choice. I’m choosing to not refer to zeta in this section of the blog.
In all seriousness, when I refer to choice I am not talking about flex; flex has always been a daft word to use to describe traditional flexible benefit arrangements. Let’s think about it for a moment; you get a selection of benefits that you can make alterations to just once a year. Doesn’t sound very flexible does it?
Choice is a much better word to use because it better reflects what the process should be. Let’s say that you have completed a full wellbeing analysis and built a strategy which is pertinent to the risks you identified, you have a good range of prevention, intervention and education solutions but there is one big problem – the solutions are all rigid in design.
A perfect example is life assurance, a 20 year old living at home does not need 4 x life assurance, and a 35 year old with three children may want or need more than 4 x life assurance. Offering one level of cover will satisfy the needs of the few rather than the many.
I don’t mean to be offensive but those who don’t offer choice away from a core level of company funded cover are taking an extremely archaic approach that will on the whole add little value to your employees and it is extremely unlikely they will be appreciative.
The same applies to the everyday expenses and bills we all experience. All companies should use their bulk purchasing power to get discounts on these everyday expenses. Would your employees appreciate it if you could save them money on their mobile phone contracts, their car leasing costs, the cost of white goods, technology purchases or even utility bills? If you can save them money, they will appreciate you!!
Choice and bulk purchasing power are not the reserve of the huge employers any more either, it is now affordable for all and if you don’t have the bulk purchasing power yourself then you can lean on the large portfolios of clients of company’s like mine to negotiate for you.