Friday, April 29, 2016

Singapore - Workforce stress remains top health risk concern among S'pore employers

The absence of personalisation and a lack of measurement are limiting the true value of the health and productivity programmes of Singapore employers, according to the Willis Towers Watson’s 2015/2016 Global Staying Work survey.

Recognising that health and productivity are core organisational components, 44% of employers in Singapore are offering a variety of tactical health programmes such as worksite diet/exercise activities, biometric screenings and on-site health clinics. By implementing such offerings, employers are hoping to boost programme engagement (according to 80% of those surveyed) and improve productivity (74%), health/risk awareness (69%) and safety (69%), according to survey results.

However, Willis Towers Watson found that the current programmes are providing only limited boosts to employee engagement and effectiveness. This is because, alarmingly, the impact of such programmes is not being measured, with just 6% of Singaporean companies doing so on an ongoing basis (compared to 39% in the U.S. and 22% globally).

Furthermore, employers in Singapore are also lagging behind their global counterparts in driving a relevant and holistic H&P approach built around analytics, with 0% of local companies surveyed admitting to doing so versus 10% of global firms. Consequently, it is not surprising to see stress remain the number one health risk factor for employees in Singapore, with the latest survey results also echoing the findings of Willis Towers Watson’s previous 2013/2014 Global Staying Work survey.

Holistic view

“For companies to increase their chances of success, they must view health and productivity holistically, and offer customised and interconnected programmes that have the same overall goal,” said Dr. Rajeshree Parekh, Director of Health and Corporate Wellness for Asia and Australasia at Willis Towers Watson. “Implementing programmes that don’t align with an overarching strategy will have limited results in changing long-term employee behaviour.”

Apart from Singaporean companies identifying stress as the number-one health issue, lack of physical activity, lack of sleep and obesity are also leading health risks,  reflecting Singapore’s high-pressure working environment.

“It’s important for employers to recognise that many of the employee health issues are inter-related,” said Dr. Parekh. “For example, research shows that insufficient physical activity, poor nutrition and inadequate sleep are strongly linked with obesity and stress. This linkage is another reason why employers’ efforts to address issues on an individual basis could fail to improve employees’ health and wellbeing, and why holistic, strategic approaches are vital.”

Positively, local companies are now realising and recognising the need for a more strategic approach, with 67% of organisations in Singapore planning to differentiate their programmes for specific segments through the use of data and analytics in the next three years – significantly higher than their regional counterparts (35%).

Lack of personalized approach

In Singapore, many employees are communicating with employers regularly, but very few are doing so with a personalised approach. Almost 70% of employers in Singapore are providing regular communication that encourages employee safety and well-being. However, only 9% of employers are using consumer marketing techniques – such as segmentation based on health behaviours and/or spending patterns – to develop customised and targeted communication strategies.

The study also revealed that employers are increasingly using technology to help employees pursue healthier lifestyles. In Singapore, employers are promoting healthy workplace culture through dedicated portals to deliver health information (30%), providing online tools that are available at work and at home (30%), as well as implementing formal technology strategies to support health and well-being goals (26%).

Furthermore, more Singapore employers are looking to offer choice and flexibility for employee and dependent health care contributions, premiums and enrolment. In addition to offering more health programmes, employers in Singapore are also looking at providing employees greater choice and flexibility in terms of voluntary benefits and services, plan designs and employee contributions.

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