Engaging employees in a changing work environment

Howden’s Primus Lee highlights the importance of empowering and engaging employees with the right benefits in flexible working environments.
By: | August 10, 2023

Employee engagement is undeniably crucial for fostering a thriving and productive workforce. As organisations navigate the evolving dynamics of work environments, HR professionals are placing increasing emphasis on vital initiatives like mental health and wellness programmes, as well as the adoption of hybrid work models.

The prevalence of hybrid work has reshaped how employees operate in various locations and environments. Speaking with HRM Asia, Primus Lee, Executive Director and Head of Employee Benefits, Howden, highlighted the necessity of flexibility in providing employee benefits, and said, “With employees working from different locations, it’s essential to offer flexible insurance coverage that can accommodate their needs, whether they work from the office, home, or other remote locations.”

Such adaptability ensures that employees feel supported and valued, regardless of their work setting. This approach to benefits acknowledges the diverse needs and preferences of the workforce, contributing to a more engaged and satisfied employee base.

Furthermore, as organisations embrace remote work arrangements, the focus on health and safety has intensified. Employers must proactively address potential health and safety risks in remote work environments to create a conducive and secure workplace for their employees, Primus added. By providing the necessary resources and guidance, organisations can foster a culture of care and wellbeing that resonates both in-office and in remote settings.

Consistent communication and engagement play a vital role in driving employee satisfaction and productivity. However, maintaining seamless engagement with remote employees can be challenging. Primus underscored the importance of effective communication in helping employees comprehend and optimise their benefits and emphasised consistent communication and engagement are essential to ensure remote employees make the most of the offered benefits.

Among the critical aspects of employee engagement is mental health support. The shift to remote work has brought about distinct stressors and challenges for employers, making mental health resources more vital than ever. Primus pointed out the importance of extending mental health support to remote employees, acknowledging that they may face unique psychological challenges compared to their in-office counterparts. Organisations must prioritise mental wellness programmes and resources, fostering a supportive work environment that values employees’ holistic wellbeing.

Tailored wellness programmes for organisations

In implementing mental and wellness programmes, Howden adopts a personalised and holistic approach, as Primus explained, “Our approach towards wellness is to build tailored wellness programmes that complement the needs of employees in different organisations. While there are similarities in needs and trends across the board, every organisation and their employees are ultimately different and require a tailored approach.”

The MediHub programme by Howden, for instance, offers basic health screenings for chronic diseases, followed by further intervention, such as one-to-one health screening coaching sessions. This is provided to all organisations on the MediHub programme at no additional charge, reflecting a fundamental and essential level of wellness that all organisations should have. Additionally, organisations can augment their wellness offerings through modular additions, including ergonomics or mental wellness workshops and a 24/7 counselling support hotline. This comprehensive and tailored approach, according to Primus, ensures that employees have access to resources that suit their specific wellbeing needs.

Moreover, accessibility is crucial in today’s fragmented work environment. To cater to the diverse workforce, Howden has made its wellness resources easily accessible through an app. Primus continued, “We facilitate easy access to these wellness resources through our MediHub app, ensuring employees can seek support conveniently, whether working from the office or remotely. Of course, all of these benefits would be moot if employees are not adequately engaged about them, so we work closely with HR teams to ensure that these mental and wellness programmes are integrated into broader employee engagement initiatives, promoting a supportive and caring work environment.”

“With wellness initiatives, this is especially important as knowledge alone may not be sufficient to move employees to action. Beyond education, there needs to be a supportive culture that promotes wellness and encourages employees to proactively take care of themselves both physically and mentally.”

READ MORE: How to attract and retain talent with employee benefits

Looking ahead, Primus shared insights into future trends in employee engagement and benefit offerings, saying that personalisation and flexibility will become increasingly important. He elaborated, “The diverse needs of employees and the call for inclusive benefits are increasingly apparent, so benefits insurance offerings will have to become more personalised and flexible, allowing employees to select benefits that align with their individual needs and preferences.” Additionally, the integration of technology will be crucial in providing seamless insurance administration and claims processing, streamlining the benefits experience for employees and HR teams alike.

“As a broker that specialises in employee benefit insurance, we actively research industry trends and employee needs like these and ensure that our clients’ benefits offerings stay relevant and competitive,” Primus concluded. “Our tailored approach to building employee benefit packages allows organisations to customise benefits to suit their unique workforce requirements.”