8th October 2020

The fallacy of following fad and fancy

22nd August, 2018

Laura Matthews

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” said Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. The famous scene from Alice in Wonderland. So what should employers learn from this? Well the answer is quite a lot, but the reality is quite different.

The modern workplace of today is complex due to the diverse range of people employed within it and their diverse needs. This means wellbeing should no longer be a tick box exercise consisting of fruit in the office and half priced gym membership. Wellbeing needs to be holistic, be future focussed and must go hand in hand with the organisation’s employee benefits offering.

Offering a benefit or wellbeing solution without clarity of purpose and objective can be an easy trap to fall into.  This is especially true where HR decision makers are becoming disillusioned and even losing faith in the validity of benefit or wellbeing solutions altogether. This is not forgetting the potential damage to your organisation’s bottom line by having to absorb the cost of failed interventions and benefits that are neither valued nor seen as being valuable.

Having clear objectives that you want to achieve through your benefits and wellbeing strategy is key. These should be aligned with your overall business strategy and supported by a strategic framework and plan which outlines how these will be achieved.

Below are some important points you should also consider when looking into your benefits and wellbeing strategy.


Employers need a comprehensive strategy in place to support the needs of their diverse workforce and this should be driven by clear HR and people metrics and analytics. Our latest research; The Wellbeing Agenda, showed that just over half of organisations use HR metrics to drive strategy.

Workforce demographics, in-depth HR metrics and even employee surveys will help you understand the needs of your workforce when building a holistic and targeted combined strategy to cover both benefit and wellbeing. The findings should be used to review any current provisions to understand if they are valued by your workforce, and if not, where the benefit spend could be allocated.


Employee feedback is key. Gather and share the feedback among existing employees. This demonstrates that you are interested and listening to them. It will also ensure that you’ve done your research on the impact and value of your wellbeing and benefits strategy. Ensure that you have a clear and compelling business strategy, which includes the messages you want to promote around health and wellbeing.


Whilst feedback is important, the measurement against the objective initially set alongside tracking uptake will allow you to start building the case for return in investment. HR metrics play an important part in measurement too, as this is where you track reduced absenteeism, lower turnover of regretted leavers, reduced recruitment costs and higher engagement.

Give employees choice

Apple didn’t make their music listening device to just be another Walkman; they completely reinvented the experience to make it fit and relevant for its time. Ensure that you don’t simply match your competitors’ benefits and wellbeing offerings; better it, or make it different.

Every employee will have different priorities and by facilitating choice of benefits, it allows them to choose what is important to them. This can be done through online benefit platforms, which are becoming very popular within organisations. However, some platforms have not evolved and prohibit employees from being able to review and choose benefits regularly at the right time for them, and instead adopt the inflexible annual “use it or lose it“ approach. In order to have more choice, platform providers, (if they haven’t already) should be looking at monthly rather than annual enrolment windows and ‘anytime’ benefits such as gym membership readily available for employees to use.

Remember things don’t happen overnight

It may take a bit of time for employees to become familiar with your reward and benefits package, especially as there may be lots to learn and understand if you have introduced new benefits. Engaging your employees with the benefits you offer is key. Not only will it increase take-up of the benefits, but also increase recognition for what you as an employer offer. Employees are often surprised when they find out the value of their total reward package.

Overall, it is important for employers to remember that employees will each have individual needs, so getting information early on about what is required is vital. From an employee’s perspective, giving constructive feedback to management will not only help themselves, but will help their peers.

Laura Matthews

Laura Matthews oversees the award winning Wellbeing solution, BWell for Barnett Waddingham. She specialises in Workplace Wellbeing within all types of organisations, building bespoke and holistic wellbeing strategies to meet the needs of the client. Laura has become a trusted wellbeing consultant to a wide range of businesses.

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