‘Resilience triples with well-rounded wellbeing support’

The workplace Return, Reset or Reboot demands agility and resilience. Yet a new survey by Aon suggests only 30% of employees feel resilient, highlighting a need for employers to re-examine people risk.

Hands signifying diversity
Six months into the Covid-19 pandemic, schools and workplaces around the world are coming to terms with new ways of working and new ways of being. With these changes come the need to continue to address employee engagement; ideally through a wide-ranging health and wellbeing programme that incorporates physical, social, emotional, financial and professional needs according to new research by Aon, a global professional services firm.Examining the views of 2,500 employers and employees across France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, Aon’s report, The Rising Resilient, finds that just 30% of employees feel resilient. Employees with poor resilience have 55% lower engagement at work and are 42% less likely to want to stay with their employer.

What is resilience?

Resilience is a hot topic in global HR and leadership right now. Paul Williamson, a learning and development expert and leadership coach, defines resilience as being all about flexibility. “It’s the complete opposite of rigidity,” he says. “When we’re resilient we are free to move around, to stretch and take the strain. We have access to our resourcefulness and creativity, and invest our energy wisely in the right activities to get the best results.”According to Aon, just 30% of employee respondents are resilient based on three core indicators – the employees’ sense of security, sense of belonging and ability to reach their potential. Resilience in a work environment means people can better adapt to adverse situations, manage stress and retain motivation, enabling organisations to better manage change. The research showed, however, that 42% of all employee respondents don’t feel secure at work, 52% don’t feel a sense of belonging and 55% don’t feel they can reach their potential.

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Resilience, health and wellbeing

European employers who do more for the health and wellbeing of their staff were more likely to take greater, and quicker actions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their workforce during the early weeks of Covid-19, Aon’s study finds.While most employers surveyed did something, those with pre-existing broad approaches to wellbeing did far more during Covid-19. At the most basic level, 34% of organisations with no health and wellbeing programme encouraged their staff to work from home. This compares to 48% of organisations with some health and wellbeing initiatives and 63% for those with a broad programme.As the feature in the autumn issue of Relocate Global discusses, employee health and well-being is critical to engagement and overall business health and resilience. Yet increasingly, traditional programmes on their own are not enough.Geoffrey Kuhn, Senior Vice President and Actuary, Health Solutions, Aon, explains: “The Covid-19 pandemic has shone an intense spotlight on workforce resilience in a way we have never seen before; leaders are far more aware of the fragility and dependence on a healthy and financially well workforce.“The research showed that despite health and wellbeing programmes being well-established with employers and being positively correlated with employee resilience, wellbeing programmes as they are implemented today often fail to lead to workforce resilience,” continues Mr Kuhn. “Smart, strategic investment is more than good housekeeping; it is part of what makes a business thrive.”

'Broad health and wellbeing initiatives work best'

Aon defined engaged employees as those that are enthusiastic towards work, motivated, feel that they will stay with their employer and love the company that they work for. If an employee meets all these measures, they are defined as engaged. This way, 71% of resilient employees meet the engaged employee definition, while just 16% non-resilient meet it, highlighting a difference of 55%.The research also showed that resilience triples when employers adopt a well-rounded health and wellbeing programme supporting physical, social, emotional, financial and professional needs. Just 15% of employees are resilient within organisations that don’t offer health and wellbeing initiatives, 29% are resilient if a partial health and wellbeing initiative is offered and 45% of employees are resilient if they work for an employer that offers a broad health and wellbeing programme.Aon’s report also showed that 40% of UK employees say they are less likely to receive a broad wellbeing programme covering four to five elements of wellbeing, compared to 45% of mainland Europe employees. 

Managing people risk

Andrew Cunningham, Chief Commercial Officer EMEA, Health Solutions, Aon, comments: “While organisations might feel more exposed now, the reality is that workforces carry this risk all the time. People who do not prioritise their health and wellbeing may be more vulnerable to long-term illnesses (cancers, diabetes, heart disease), and in the case of Covid-19, greater impact of a new disease.“Mental health illnesses like depression – which alone is estimated to cost the global economy north of $1 trillion1 have more recently been recognised but again, the pandemic has brought this into sharper focus. It almost seems implausible to think that convincing leaders to consider wellbeing as more than an exercise in compliance was ever a struggle. But it was; and for some, it still is.“There were already many challenges facing business leaders. From potential damage to brand and reputation, to the ongoing complexity of talent acquisition, retention and development at a time of accelerated change – though many of these pale into insignificance compared to meeting the challenge of the global economic slowdown caused by Covid-19.”1 Mental health in the workplace, WHO, 2019

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