The award, part of the ‘We Invest in People’ accreditation, is only achieved by 2% of organisations who apply. Investors in People is a standard for people management and offers accreditation to organisations that adhere to its ethics.

There are four levels of the award, standard, silver, gold and platinum. Within each of those there are four levels of ‘maturity’, which include developed, established, advanced and high performing. Each level is more progressive and challenging than the next and each award is a fantastic recognition in its own right.

Wingate managing director Ben Clarke said:

Achieving the platinum accreditation for ‘We Invest in People’ is a fantastic accolade and endorses our view that if you create a culture where everyone supports each other and knows their role in delivering exceptional service, special things can happen.

This is never more relevant than in the current challenging times.

Investors in People head Paul Devoy, in awarding the accreditation said:

Platinum accreditation on ‘We Invest in People’ is a remarkable effort for any organisation, and places Wingate in fine company with a host of organisations that understand the value of people.

Looking after staff has always been important for the best employers. Having a positive environment, culture and approach to personal development have long been components that employers have focused on to demonstrate their commitment to caring about staff.

Remuneration packages too, have been clear differentiators between the best employers and the rest. Salary, of course is important, but savvy employers – and employees – recognise that the accompanying employee benefits can boost the value of remuneration packages significantly.

Traditionally, certain benefits would be expected as core, such as a pension, private healthcare and life assurance. But, along with many things, the recent pandemic has changed all that.

Daily reporting on mortality rates, the effect of underlying medical conditions, obesity and the importance of exercise has meant that we are all focusing on our health and wellbeing more than ever.

Remote, personalised, accessible

As such, the health and wellbeing benefits that employers offer have become particularly interesting to staff.

As needs rapidly changed, the industry has been ready to adapt.

Remote, virtual access to GPs 24/7 has been a game changer.

Access to support for mental health has become even more flexible. Counselling can be provided remotely. Apps allow employees to monitor stress levels, and nudge them to access one-to-one support if needed. Personalised hubs provide a wealth of information for self-care.

Celebrities have been brought in to liven up online fitness classes. Discounted home exercise equipment has been made available. Fitness trackers can boost individual motivation, and can also be linked to fellow employees’ workouts to help remote team-building.

Downtime has never been more important, and some providers offer free film downloads, coffee at home, and extra rewards for improving wellbeing.

Let’s get physical

Musculo skeletal conditions account for 40% of sickness absence, but the pandemic hasn’t been a reason for treatment to stop. Providers have made support such as physio available remotely.

The NHS backlog will have a significant impact for some time. Private healthcare will not only help people get the treatment they need, it will also help ease a burden for the NHS.

Employers understand the benefits that providing access to private healthcare can bring in terms of reduced employee absence, but where this may once have been seen as a perk for senior staff, it’s now likely to be offered more widely. There are increasingly flexible options available which have made this affordable for many more employers.

The statistics behind the statistics show the huge decrease in people getting a diagnosis for serious illnesses including cancer. Early diagnosis is imperative for improving outcomes, and providing access to health monitoring and screening is one option that can be a real support to a workforce.

Financial relevance

Where employees may once have paid little attention to financial protection benefits their employer offered – such as life assurance, income protection, critical illness – it’s now become more interesting as they see the direct relevance.

These are some of the most affordable benefits, they’re now likely to be some of the most valued. When a financial pay-out is made in the event of death, illness or injury, the support to an employee and their dependants can be a lifeline. People are now more aware of the likelihood of such an event happening, so will be more engaged in such benefits.

Indeed, financial planning, retirement planning, budgeting, financial education all have more relevance to employees now. Employers that support their workforce in these areas have their finger on the pulse and show a direct understanding of what’s important to their staff.

Communicate and engage

As employees have an increased interest in their physical, mental and financial wellbeing, this provides a perfect opportunity for employers to communicate any support they offer.

And as the benefits themselves have adapted, so too must communication methods. Online platforms, email, post, remote presentations are all being more widely used to great effect. When employees know what support they’re offered, they feel valued and they’re more engaged: great achievements at such a time.

Freddie Flintoff recently publicised his struggle with bulimia. Jesy Nelson from Little Mix has been open about dealing with poor mental health. ‘The Rock’ Dwayne Johnson has talked about his feelings of isolation when dealing with depression.

When such public figures talk about how poor mental health has affected them, it demonstrates that no-one is immune. Research from mental health charity Mind shows that one in four people will experience a mental health problem each year.

Of course, it’s not just the individual that’s affected, it can also affect those around them: their family, loved ones, colleagues and employers.

Effect on the business

It’s no surprise then that mental health has been rising up the corporate agenda. The Health and Safety Executive reported that work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 54% of working days lost in 2018/19.

The recent pandemic will exacerbate matters for many, with uncertainty, restrictions on socialising, and being isolated from colleagues all causing anxiety; and the effects will be very much felt by employers.

Employer responsibility

Forward-thinking employers have embraced this challenge, and the majority now see it as their responsibility to support the mental health of their workforce: 75% of employers, according to research from GRiD, the industry body for the group risk industry.

It’s not entirely altruistic, the same research showed that 81% of employers saw it as good for their business to support the mental wellbeing of staff. Not only did it help them reduce the length and number of absences and mean quicker returns to work, it also increased productivity.

Employers also said the very act of having a policy in place to support mental wellbeing demonstrated the company cares for staff which increases loyalty, engagement, recruitment and retention.

This is backed up by what employees say too. Research by Legal & General showed that only 29% of employees would stay with their present employer if they were offered the same job with a competitor who offered comprehensive mental health support.

So the business case for supporting mental wellbeing is clear.

Support exists

It’s all very well employers taking responsibility, but it can be a challenge to know what that looks like in practice. A challenge increased by the fact that it isn’t always evident who might need help. As the cases of high-profile celebrities demonstrate, people can be adept at seemingly being fine.

The good news is, there are a lot of solutions available for employers to offer help. Providers continually enhance their propositions, and support is wide and comprehensive, covering a myriad of issues.

Specialists can be on hand to provide help for serious concerns from gambling and addictions to post traumatic stress disorder.

Access to 24/7 helplines can be provided, offering employees support on matters from work-related stress to dealing with neighbour disputes.

Professional counselling can be provided, and even in-patient care when needed. Help can also be extended to dependants.

Support can be standalone, or as part of company healthcare or protection policies. It’s also quite possible that many companies have access to such benefits within existing schemes they already have in place without realising.

So many schemes include access to mental health support, and employers are unaware. So it’s vital that businesses review what they have, so they – and their employees – can utilise it.

It’s also important to remember not all support is the same. Some schemes offer a light touch, limited service, others are more comprehensive. So it’s important to know what’s really included, how it compares, and – most importantly – what’s going to be of most benefit to your particular company and workforce.

We are delighted to announce that Wingate Benefit Solutions have been recognised as shortlisted finalists in two categories at the 2020 Health Insurance and Protection awards.

Wingate received this accolade in the highly contested categories of ‘Best Adviser for Group Protection’ and ‘Best Adviser for Group Healthcare’.   These awards are our industry’s ultimate accolade and an unparalleled recognition of excellence.

Commenting on this latest achievement, Ben Clarke; Managing Director of Wingate said; “We are so proud that the hard work and commitment of our team to deliver exceptional standards of advice and service have been recognised”

Wingate Benefit Solutions (along with our sister Chartered Financial Planning firm, Wingate Financial Planning) have once again been awarded gold accreditation against the Investors in People Standard, demonstrating a continued commitment to high performance through good people management.

Investors in People is the international standard for people management, defining what it takes to lead, support and manage people effectively to achieve sustainable results. Underpinning the Standard is the Investors in People framework, reflecting the latest workplace trends, essential skills and effective structures required to outperform in any industry. Investors in People enables organisations to benchmark against the best in the business on an international scale.

Paul Devoy, Head of Investors in People, said: “We’d like to congratulate Wingate, Investors in People accreditation is the sign of a great employer, an outperforming place to work and a clear commitment to success. Wingate should be extremely proud of their achievement.”

Commenting on the award, Ben Clarke, Managing Director said: “The continuation of our Investors in People accreditation to the Gold Standard is something we truly value as it recognises our passionate belief that caring, supporting and empowering our colleagues helps them deliver exceptional services to our clients”