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ESG: The DEI and ESG factors that are influencing benefits strategy and why these will need to become ingrained in employers’ approach

August 4, 2022
Liz Naulls

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues are high on corporate agendas. The past two years have led to a greater focus on ‘social’ as a critical success factor and organisations are increasingly turning their attention to the difference that good practices can make to people’s lives. Experts agree that our ways of working are unlikely to revert to pre-pandemic norms as our relationships with, and expectations of, work have changed irrevocably. Employers now have the responsibility to adapt to the needs of both existing and future workers in order to succeed in an increasingly competitive market for talent. A key starting point will be providing employee benefits tailored to suit a diverse workforce and flexible enough to adapt to differing employee backgrounds and lifestyles.

As talent shortages continue to pile pressure on UK businesses, it’s important to ensure that opportunities appeal to the widest possible pool of potential recruits. For many sectors, for example engineering and science-based professions, inclusivity is an ongoing challenge. While efforts are made to recruit individuals across a wide range of backgrounds, a lack of existing role models within organisations has meant that retention is often the biggest hurdle. The gap between existing employee profiles and a truly diverse workforce model, in particular representing those from traditionally underserved groups, continues to widen.

How can employers tackle this? Healthcare benefits are a powerful lever in encouraging and supporting people throughout their careers. At a time where the NHS is under significant pressure, employers should explore how best to support their workforce to ensure that all workers have access to affordable and accessible healthcare solutions. At Lime, we believe that everyone’s health is equally valuable, regardless of background, role, or level of seniority. The good news is that more and more employers are recognising that private medical insurance provision, often only available to the highest paid workers within an organisation, does not adequately serve the whole workforce. Providing limited access risks undermining the ‘social’ strand of ESG strategies and calls into question the effort to create more purpose-driven organisations. Creating this disconnect between ESG aspirations and reality risks damaging trust and is likely to go unnoticed, particularly amongst new and emerging talent.

Offering fair, more equitable health and wellbeing solutions better fits the complex health needs of a modern, diverse workforce. By supporting employees and enabling them to be at their best at work, employers can better align workplace culture with core purpose and ESG strategy. Getting this right strengthens the employer brand, helping to boost both recruitment and retention, and quite simply works better for people, and better for business.

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