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How Organizations Can Ensure an Inclusive Approach to Their Health and Well-Being Strategies

Posted by Samantha Hayes Friday, 07 May 2021

A work environment that is inclusive of a diverse workforce can help employees thrive and feel valued by their employer. Since the majority of employees want to work for an employer that protects their well-being[1], employers that consider an inclusive approach when it comes to the health and well-being benefits they are offering may gain a competitive advantage and be seen as an employer-of-choice – an important distinction when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.

Even though 81% of employers are focused on improving inclusion, only 38% actually have a multi-year strategy in place to enable them to deliver on their inclusion goals[2]. Organizations should therefore play close attention to the way health, risk protection and well-being benefits are designed but also to how they are delivered, as this is what will enable organization to create a desirable workplace culture and employer brand.

When it comes to evaluating whether your health and well-being approaches are inclusive, the key is to understand whether your benefit strategy follows a traditional approach to cater to what is considered an ‘average’ employee or are you offering health and well-being benefits that consider various different backgrounds and life experiences. Inclusive workforces could include multigenerational employees, gender, women’s health, an ageing workforce, employees with disabilities or special requirements, language, family status, ethnicity and race.

See Figure 1 for an example of what an inclusive workforce may look like and what you should be considering when designing your health and well-being strategy.

Mercer Marsh Benefits recommends a four-step process for employers wanting to be seen as proactively leading the way on inclusive benefits and creating a desirable and valuable workplace for their employees:

  1. Assess gaps in current benefits
    The best starting point is to evaluate your current benefits and identify key focus areas that may require improvement. Not only does this exercise assess for gaps in inclusive benefits but assesses overall quality, utilization and accessibility of benefits, which can ultimately also help contain costs.
  2. Define and uphold minimum standards
    Once you have insight into your current benefit strategy and have identifying potential areas of improvement, it is important to define your key areas of focus. Focus areas should align to broader people objectives, workforce strategy and best practices, and should take into consideration employee needs, legal risk tolerance, cost and operational resources.
  3. Design a universal strategy
    Once the key areas and minimum standards have been defined, the focus should be on delivering these standards consistently across the entire organization. You should ensure that you take a long-term approach and create a roadmap over three to five years, with strong buy-in from senior leadership.
  4. Challenge the status quo
    You may need to challenge internal decision-makers as well as external stakeholders such as insurers to come up with creative solutions to filling any gaps identified in your strategy. Waiting for stakeholders to come up with decisions or solutions places you at risk of having to wait too long to close prioritized gaps.

Organizations that undergo this process may realize that their benefits are not as inclusive as they expected. The next step would be to identify the areas that require improvement and redesign their benefit strategy to ensure that they are offering a holistic and inclusive approach to health and well-being. Employers who take on this proactive approach ultimately reduce their exposure to risks in areas such as talent management, reputation and benefit cost escalation.

Read our paper, Turning Health Risk into Value: Well-being for more information on how you can implement a holistic well-being strategies that covers the four pillars of well-being, including emotional and mental well-being. 


[1] MMB Health on Demand 2020

[2] Mercer. “2021 Global Talent Trends Study,” available at https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/career/global-talent-hr-trends.html