It has been interesting to watch the changing fortunes of employee engagement as an HR issue in the past few years.

Like an X Factor winner, it has moved from being the talk of the town to something about which people are asking: was it really worth all the fuss and attention?

Judging by the findings of Edenred’s Wellbeing Barometer released this week, the same fate could be about to befall health and wellbeing.

Like employee engagement, it’s an issue which has garnered a huge amount of attention in the past five years.

And despite a near universal belief by HR that there is a link between health and wellbeing and business performance, our research finds that businesses are failing to get to grips with how they deal with the issue in practice.

Why is that? There appears to be three reasons.

The first is priority. Three quarters or organisations describe health and wellbeing as ‘nice to have’ or ‘not a priority.

In an environment where resources – time and money are scarce – there is a lack of will from HR to get their organisations behind health and wellbeing issues.

This is no doubt caused by the second problem we found in our research: a lack of understanding of the interventions which will make a difference to the organisation and its employees.  

Without a compelling and specific argument as to how health and wellbeing can help improve the organisations, it is no surprise that it the issues is sidelined in practice.

And that brings us to the last reason why organisations are likely to be failing in this area: where investment is made it is tactical in nature with very little going into the areas where HR believes it will make a difference.

The picture that emerges is of organisations paying lip service to the idea of employee wellbeing, failing to apply either the thinking, strategic planning or investment it needs to make a difference.

This is a shame because, whatever the size of your organisation, helping your employees with their health and wellbeing really is quite an uncomplicated matter.

It is also one of those rare areas of business where tracking investment and output is relatively straightforward and one where there substantial opportunity for HR to demonstrate its ability to improve business performance.

Lastly, the investment and attention paid to wellbeing is playing an even greater role in employee thinking about the kind of organisation they work for.

Health and wellbeing deserves much more than to become another of the great HR fads. The danger is, as things stand, that is how it might end up.

I am the sales and marketing director at employee benefits provider, Edenred. You can read more from me at or @andy_philpott.













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