If 2017 was the year the UK started to take mental health seriously, 2018 will be the year wellbeing becomes a boardroom priority, as well as a key differentiator for employer branding.
Brands across the corporate spectrum are realising that it is not simply an initiative that offers employees free fruit or gym vouchers. Instead, going forward the focus will be on creating a business culture where people thrive, acknowledging the parity of mental and physical wellbeing.
This is an agenda that needs to be owned by business leaders, says Patrick Watt, corporate director and global head of wellness at Bupa, who believes small businesses have an opportunity to lead the way.
“There’s a huge emphasis on businesses focusing as much on mental wellbeing as physical wellbeing. This agenda now has cascaded across organisations of all sizes,” Watt explains.
“Whereas in the past this was seen very much as a large corporate agenda, what we’re increasingly seeing is that small businesses can engage in this agenda as much as large businesses.”
Integrating mental and emotional wellbeing into performance management will also prove crucial if brands are to build engaged and resilient teams. Brands could well follow in the footsteps of Direct Line, where 50% of a marketer’s performance is focused on achievements and 50% on how these are achieved.
Watt expects businesses with a social conscience to stand out in 2018 in terms of attracting and retaining talent, especially as Brexit takes its toll on modern workplaces.
“The one thing we can be certain about with Brexit is that it is going to create change and uncertainty and that puts a huge personal pressure on individuals,” says Watt. “Therefore, creating an environment where people can thrive and do their best work is really important. Otherwise there will be a human cost to Brexit.”