Flexibility still key - but Flexibility+ is what we need now

National Work Life Week shows us that additional wellbeing initiatives are needed in a challenging business environment, says UK Country Manager at the Top Employers Institute, Phil Sproston.

Our understanding of wellbeing – what it means and its strategic importance for organisations - has increased greatly in recent years. Some aspects of how we feel when we are at work have been well understood for years. According to the most recent Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey, for example, the benefit most valued, by nearly 9 in 10 (86%), remains a flexible working lifestyle. The desire for flexibility - and the wellbeing it brings - has long been known and recognised.. This blog has been written during National Work Life Week, with the term “work-life balance” now well established for over two decades.

However, much else has changed. The biggest difference is that the unprecedented pressures of work in highly unpredictable and challenging times has made flexibility a necessary - but hardly a sufficient - condition of wellbeing. On its own, flexibility is no longer enough. Instead, we find ourselves in a new age of “Flexibility+”, with a wide range of additional wellbeing initiatives needed to underpin the flexibility we largely take for granted.

As a result, there are a myriad of wellbeing initiatives springing up within the most enlightened organisations. Our own research confirms this – a key differentiator among our Certified UK Top Employers is the sheer breadth of programmes they offer. Wellbeing programmes offered by our Top Employers spread far beyond a now near-universal offer of Employee Assistance Programmes (99%) and into far more specific initiatives, including stress management (93% of participants), debt support (82%), preventative occupational health (87%) and even “burn out recovery” programmes (49%).

Many other wellbeing initiatives are on offer – too many to list here. Most importantly though, the tactical programmes of Top Employers have a carefully thought-through strategy driving them along. Nearly nine in ten (85%) have an organisation-wide wellbeing programme, while most (86%) invest in education for employees around the range of offers available, while nearly all (91%) make them freely accessible.

This is no free giveaway – far from it – for crucially, over two-thirds (67%) know that to do all the above makes financial sense. They evaluate the impact and effectiveness of their wellbeing programmes on a regular basis. And so, with the flexible workplace well established, yet outstripped by a new world full of turbulent market conditions, many businesses consider extra investment in wellbeing initiatives money very well spent.