Tom Nash and Burcin Ressamoglu

The Evolution and Growing Importance of Employee Wellbeing

27 June 2024

If you attended May’s EE Summit, you’ll have seen our CEO, Burcin Ressamoglu and HR Business Partner, Tom Nash lead their keynote session, Fueling Success: The Impact of Wellbeing on Employee Performance. During this blog, we’ll reflect on some of their key points and explore the evolution of employee wellbeing and how you can harness the power of a wellbeing strategy to fuel your success.

The Evolution of Workplace Wellbeing

Much has happened in recent years to shape how HR approaches workplace wellbeing. The pandemic and subsequent shift to hybrid working, the Great Resignation, silent resignations, the cost-of-living crisis, and changing generational expectations all shape employee wellbeing expectations and needs.

Once upon a time, workplace wellbeing and employee benefits centred around health insurance, life insurance, and pensions. Any benefits package that offered more was considered a perk.

Today, employee benefits are essential for retention, talent acquisition, employee engagement, productivity, and more.

Employers recognise that employee wellbeing is holistic, incorporating financial, mental, and physical health. From creating an authentic culture of workplace wellbeing to providing employee benefits that make employees’ lives more joyful - there are many ways businesses can make an impact.

Flexibility has become a right - no longer a gift - and employees are willing to leave a business that doesn’t meet their needs or align with their values.


happy women in the office


Unpacking Rising Absenteeism

Discover more about rising absenteeism, why it’s happening and how you can resolve it in our blog, ‘Reducing absenteeism and Sending National Sickie Day on its Merry Way

The average absenteeism rate in 2023 was 7.8 days per year, a 34.4% increase on the 2019 figures. 

Absenteeism isn’t rising purely because physical health is declining. Mental ill-health is the leading cause of long-term sickness (four weeks or longer), and financial anxiety is more prevalent, increasing the risk of burnout.

During his EE Summit keynote, Tom Nash shared a personal story about a time when he didn’t prioritise his health.

Before I joined Pluxee... there was so much going on. I didn’t have the time (or energy) to do the things I enjoyed, and I’d let quite a lot of my fitness go.

What do you think his employer did to help keep Tom energised?

They gave him a pay rise.

The salary increase created a momentary buzz and a sense of achievement, but it didn’t change the fact that Tom lacked time, balance and space to take care of himself. Recognising that the environment wasn’t right for him - even though he’d just received a pay rise - Tom left the business.

Their loss… Pluxee’s gain!

The power of a pay increase is limited. When a business provides employee benefits that positively impact workplace wellbeing alongside a culture that puts people at its heart, the impact is felt and is sustainable in the long term.

Absenteeism costs the UK economy approximately £50 billion a year (Public Health England).

You’re familiar with the phrase ‘throwing money at a problem’, and Tom’s example was just that. The pay rise cost the business money, and they thought it was the solution. In the end, it cost them even more - the average £30,000 expense associated with replacing an employee.

Reducing absenteeism will involve a financial investment in your employee wellbeing strategy, but when it’s effective… when it cuts sickness absences, increases employee engagement, and boosts employee retention, it yields a financial return.


Happy black lady


The Rise of Financial Wellbeing as a Primary Pillar

If asked, would you guess that almost half of your employees rate their financial wellbeing poorly?

Burcin asked her keynote audience this question at the EE Summit, referencing research from our Money Mastery eBook

Our survey findings showed that nearly half (48%) of respondents rated their financial wellbeing as average, poor, or very poor. More than that, 73% stated it added more stress to their lives, and 57% said it led to poor mental health.

Poor financial health causes increased anxiety = reduced productivity.

Employee financial wellbeing and business profitability are intrinsically linked. Consistent levels of low productivity reduce profitability and can cause high employee turnover.  The cost-of-living crisis has caused financial anxiety across the nation, increasing mental ill-health, contributing to rising absenteeism, and negatively impacting businesses.

It’s clear why UK employers are now prioritising financial wellbeing. 

Break the cycle. Empower employees to become financially resilient.

The Employee Benefits Mix

Everyone is exceptionally busy. They’re working on exciting topics they are passionate about and delivering exceptional results. However, to maintain this level of performance, they need substantial energy and resilience, as well as adequate time to recharge.

Tom Nash, HR Business Partner, Pluxee UK

Tom’s quote links back to why he chose to leave his previous role. The gifted pay rise improved his take-home pay but didn’t give him the time or opportunity to improve his wellbeing.

Employee benefits are often more effective at increasing employee engagement and workplace wellbeing.

Discounted gym memberships sound like a nice perk, but the value is incredibly impactful. They support financial wellbeing by giving employees up to 25% off at a vast range of fitness providers, including digital platforms employees can access at home. When a healthier lifestyle is more affordable and attainable, physical health improves, and exercise is a great way to reduce stress.

That’s three wellbeing pillars all boosted by offering just one kind of employee benefit. Let’s not forget emotional and social wellbeing, too.

Our Employee Discounts Platform and cashback-earning Pluxee Card make everyday living more affordable, stretching salaries and relieving some of the financial pressures employees face. When employees buy the things they need for less, it can alleviate their money worries, reduce stress, and improve their mental health.

When it comes to employee mental wellbeing, you can’t do better than offering an Employee Assistance Programme. Can you put a price on the peace of mind that comes from being able to contact a BACP-accredited counsellor 24/7, 365?

There’s much more to consider and a vast range of employee benefits to add to the wellbeing mix. Discover everything you need to know about employee benefits here.

You're ready to harness the power of your employee wellbeing strategy! Arrange a call, and we'll be by your side every step of the way,

Lady in pink jumper

Employee Benefits & Wellbeing Strategy

Inside, you’ll find the answer to the question: which employee benefits create financially, physically, and mentally resilient employees?


How do I know which employee benefits are suitable for my people? Start with your people. Gather data, run surveys - discover what’s happening in their lives and what support they need. From there, you can start mapping out your workplace wellbeing strategy and explore which employee benefits will be most impactful.

How can I measure if employee wellbeing has improved after embedding an employee benefits scheme? Always start by understanding and measuring the current state of workplace wellbeing. Employee engagement surveys, lifestyle questionnaires and absenteeism figures provide a benchmark. Next, set KPIs - they help you remain focused on your goals. Regularly monitor these KPIs to track how things are progressing.

What happens if a business doesn’t prioritise employee wellbeing? They get left behind. That’s the honest answer. Organisations that embed effective workplace wellbeing schemes and offer an attractive employee benefits package see higher employee engagement and productivity levels - better retention rates, too.