Nowadays, more and more companies are starting to realise the accepted traditional benefits offering is no longer relevant or appropriate, and the one-size-fits-all approach is a thing of the past.

Covid-19 and its impact on mental health

The impact of Covid-19 was significant, and created ongoing challenges around health, global economy, commerce, and ultimately the way we live our lives. In many ways, Covid-19 underlined and increased the awareness of inequality between one workplace and another: those who had access to healthcare, online education, the ability to work remotely, and many other aspects, became acutely obvious and was much discussed between colleagues, friends, and families. For example, and perhaps most obviously, whilst many people could do their jobs from home, this did not (and still does not) apply to all.

Globally, people were dealing with the health, and social and economic impacts resulting from the pandemic. Mental health bit hard for many, and we are only now just seeing the true extent of how many people were impacted. By the end of 2020, the United Nations reported that stress and anxiety levels had risen substantially during the Covid-19 pandemic, and although no one escaped the impact of Covid-19, frontline workers, the elderly and vulnerable, and our younger generation, including those in their formative years at school, were some of those who felt the impact the greatest.

According to the definition of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Mental Health is “a state of wellbeing in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Before the pandemic, it was questionable how many employers were aware of this definition.  For example, when we look more closely at wellbeing and mental health in Georgia, it has only recently become a key agenda item for employers, with much more awareness and education still needed. As a result of the state of mental health support in Georgia, further work is required by employers to implement more proactive measures and preventative support for their employees – but, it is clear for this to work, there needs to be a robust state framework in place to offer this much needed support, quickly.

Environmental, Social, and Governance’s impact on (ESG) Health & Benefits

More widely, local and internationally headquartered employers in Georgia are looking to establish more proactive measures across the spectrum of financial, cultural, mental, physical, and social pillars with HR departments keen to embed preventative support for their employees.

Covid-19 accelerated pre-existing trends towards a greater ESG integration and understanding, with employers embracing this s more quickly than they might have done otherwise. Despite the global economic and health crisis many companies have increased their efforts to improve their management approaches and communications in relation to ESG issues.

In 2015, the United Nations developed 17 Sustainability Development Goals, also known as Global Goals, to act as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people will enjoy peace and prosperity. One of these goals is good health and wellbeing which links both ESG with wider wellbeing strategies.

Thanks to living in a challenging and competitive environment, employers understand by creating accountability around ESG, in particular around the social pillar, they are ensuring employee wellbeing remains a key agenda topic.  As such, wellbeing is considered an integrated part of doing business nowadays.

Employee wellbeing affects almost all aspects of business, and whilst great work has been done to date, much more needs to be done. Wellbeing must become part of the corporate DNA, part of the everyday business, part of the company values,  culture, and wider strategies.

ESG has gained significant attention in recent years as businesses and investors recognize the importance of sustainability and responsible corporate behaviour. The Social element of ESG directly relates to the values and culture of an organization, and how they wish to be perceived internally and externally. So, when it comes to Health & Benefits, ESG considerations can play an important role in many ways. By providing comprehensive health benefits, wellness programmes, and initiatives that promote a healthy work-life balance to boost employee engagement, businesses are contributing to a healthier and more content workforce.

The changing face of Health & Benefits

Each generation wants something different from the workplace. It is the employers’ role to empower managers to develop strategies to engage employees of all different ages to keep them motivated and happy. For example, healthcare is the most important benefit to employees in Georgia. But when it comes to employee benefits, it is clear employers are recognizing the need to provide a much wider benefits programme to their people.

Nowadays, more and more companies are starting to realise the accepted traditional benefits offering is no longer relevant or appropriate, and the one-size-fits-all approach is a thing of the past. Traditional benefits, such as life and health insurance or pension plans no longer give employers a competitive advantage. If there are five generations working in the same workplace, it is clear there should be a different approach to meet the needs of each generation. Traditional benefits such as life insurance and a pension plan might not be that attractive for Gen Z, but for Gen X and Baby Boomers they are a real benefit.

Non-traditional, or “newer” benefits include flexible work arrangements, mental health support, and other demands of the modern worker.  Employees nowadays appreciate the ability to have flexible work hours, remote working options, or alternative work schedules that allow them to achieve a better work-life balance.

Along with changing societal expectations, differing requirements from the workforce of today, and the inevitably different demands of tomorrow’s employees, employers must look to the future and start adapting and evolving to personalise and tailor their total Health & Benefits offerings to ensure they remain appropriate, competitive, and relevant.

Preslava Gencheva joins GrECo

Tamila Liparteliani

Practice Leader Health & Benefits GrECo Georgia

Gabriele Andratschke

Head of Group Human Resources

T +43 664 962 39 18

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