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Polarised perceptions of corporate health and wellness – Aetna International survey results

How businesses can successfully evolve in the face of uncertainty and rapid change

Conducted in September 2020, Aetna International’s latest global employer-employee survey provides unique insights into how businesses recognise and manage the health priorities of their workforce and how COVID-19 is impacting this.

The results of the in-depth research reflect the views of 4,000 employees and 1,000 employers in the UK, US, Singapore and the UAE on the impact of the pandemic on employee health, well-being and working practises.

“The pandemic has challenged businesses across the globe in myriad ways, not least of which is to reconsider their leadership, management and communication policies, along with their approach to employee health and well-being. It has also put unparalleled pressures on employees to remain productive while balancing lockdowns, childcare, finances and concerns around contracting COVID-19.


“Forward-thinking organisations are leading with compassion and developing a corporate culture that puts well-being at its centre, ensuring employees know what support is available to them, whether that’s locally, at home or in the palm of their hand.” Richard di Benedetto, President at Aetna International

Building on our previous research and report, Business of health 2020: Tackling polarised perceptions in corporate health and wellness, our survey answers the following questions:

  • To what extent has COVID-19 shaped changing employees and employer attitudes of health and wellness benefits provision?
  • How and where do businesses need to improve to meet the evolving needs and expectations of their workforce?
  • How are businesses changing their working practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • What opportunities and challenges do employers and employees face because of the pandemic?
  • What new policy, procedural or cultural changes need to be made to help businesses and their staff thrive?

Over the coming months we will be speaking to our experts to explore the findings and their implications, as well as to offer advice on how organisations can improve the health, happiness and productivity of their employees. Read our in-depth analysis articles and key findings below.

Learn more about our research and findings

Download PDF 1.0 to access relevant data

Key research findings

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected employee productivity

Factors affecting worker productivity since the COVID-19 outbreak began include:

  • poor mental health (74%)
  • concerns around furlough, pay cuts or losing their job (71%)
  • long working hours (70%)
  • spending lockdown alone (70%)
  • blurred lines between work and home life (67%)
  • being locked down with friends, family or housemates (66%)
  • juggling work with home-schooling (47%).

Workers aged 18-34 have been particularly affected, with the following factors hindering their productivity:

  • poor mental health (88% of 18-24-year-olds)
  • long working hours (80% of 25-34-year-olds)
  • blurred lines between work and home life (76% of 18-24-year-olds)
  • pressure on relationships (64% of 25-34-year-olds).

Top health concerns of employees when working from home:

  • gaining weight (43%)
  • mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety (33%)
  • stress (32%).

Employees are keen to work from the office again

  • 81% would return to the office if they can still work remotely for part of the week
  • 61% want to return to the office full time within the next six months
  • However, employee concerns about catching COVID-19 jump from 16% when working at home to 48% when working in the office.

The changing importance of mental and physical health

  • 84% of employees agree that their mental health is more important now than it was a year ago
  • 89% of employees say that their physical health is more important to them now than it was a year ago
  • 87% of employees agree that access to quality health care is more important to them now than it was a year ago.

The impact of COVID-19 on employee expectations

  • 66% of employers say that COVID-19 has increased employee expectations regarding health benefits
  • 63% of employers say there is now a greater expectation for them to take responsibility for employee health beyond the workplace
  • 65% of employees would only return to working from the office if their employer changed their policies regarding workplace well-being.

Differing views: Well-being support at home and in the office

  • Only 25% of employees rate the support they receive from their employer for stress as ‘good’ compared to 42% of employers
  • 27% of employees rate the support they receive for mental health issues as ‘poor’ compared to 9% of employers
  • 55% of employers would rate the support they provide for general wellness in the office as ‘good’ compared to 36% of employees
  • 19% of employees would rate support for musculoskeletal problems as ‘poor’ compared to 7% of employers.

The opportunities for organisations in the face of uncertainty and change

How to rapidly evolve approaches to worker support, health and well-being

Find out how organisations can rapidly evolve their approach to worker health and productivity to ensure it’s on-point in the face of heightened uncertainty and anxiety, including:

  • Implementing meaningful, tailored mental health support to meet short- and long-term employee needs
  • Catering to increasingly segregated employee health and wellness needs, according to age, gender and work locality and more
  • Delivering solutions that cater to whole-person well-being, balancing mental, physical and emotional health
  • Providing access to personalised health care that reaches people locally, at home, or in the palm of their hand.
  • Embracing changes to workplace policies and culture and reviewing management approaches
  • Leading with compassion and sincerity, and communicating clearly and decisively.

Check back often and follow us on LinkedIn for the latest insights, data, articles and podcasts.

Get further insights and information

If you’re interested in corporate wellness and workplace well-being, you’d probably enjoy our Fit For Duty Podcast — listen on Soundcloud or subscribe in iTunes.

Are you a health care broker looking to partner with an innovative, forward-thinking and award-winning international health insurer? Find out more about working with Aetna International here

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