Optimising employee engagement and wellbeing is a surefire way to enhance the employee experience, allowing companies to attract, engage and retain top talent. Boosting satisfaction also helps to develop workplace resilience and minimise costs. A number of steps from government and employers in Ireland are pushing this up the agenda.

Given the competition for talent and the impact that employee engagement – or non-engagement – can have on a company’s productivity and performance, wellbeing has gone from a nicety to a necessity. Holistic wellbeing comprises physical, emotional, financial, social, career, community, and purpose elements.

For employees, this involves making positive exercise, sleep, lifestyle and food choices; meeting career goals; relieving financial stress; nurturing meaningful friendships; deepening community ties; supporting mental health; and endorsing a company’s values.

What about financial wellbeing specifically?

The cost of living crisis has thrust financial wellbeing to the fore. According to PwC’s 2023 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 60% of employees are currently stressed about their finances, slightly higher than during the pandemic and impacting mental health, sleep and self-esteem.

Problems with payroll processes only make matters worse. Take the case of the Irish airport authority that faced threatened strike action due to payment inconsistencies spanning nine months. This included wage underpayment, overpayment and non-payment for more than 3,000 staff. Employees experienced failed direct debits and some missed work for lack of petrol money.

Our latest research, Under Pressure, revealed that 77% of employees have experienced financial stress and worry over the last 12 months. A vast majority of these (76%) say it caused negative consequences at work. Reduced productivity (54%) and feeling tired and sleepy (45%) were the two most cited problems.

Where is wellbeing on the Irish employer agenda?

The Irish Government recently launched Understanding Life in Ireland, a wellbeing framework for policy-makers. It focuses on quality of life, with a particular emphasis on equality and sustaining wellbeing into the future.

Eleven dimensions of wellbeing are included, capturing things that matter most to the people of Ireland for a good quality of life. Among these are housing, skills, work, health and community. As part of the framework, the Central Statistics Office Wellbeing Information Hub monitors wellbeing indicators, including work and job quality being one.

The recent introduction of the Work Life Balance Act is further evidence of the pivotal place of employee wellbeing in society. And the vision behind the Health Services Executive’s Healthy Ireland Implementation Plan 2023-2027 is a Healthy Ireland. It describes this as a place ‘where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential, where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society and is everyone’s responsibility’.

In the tourism industry, Fáilte Ireland introduced the Great Place to Work programme and the Employer Excellence Awards at the end of 2022. These highlight hardworking organisations committed to growing employee engagement. It may be that other sectors soon follow suit.

How can companies promote employee engagement?

Employee engagement wellbeing

Companies can look to embed wellbeing in their culture as a strategic priority. They can offer training and upskilling opportunities, flexible working arrangements, wellbeing programmes, and access to health insurance and counselling.

Zellis advocates for strong employee wellbeing, publishing research and guidance including the Employer’s Guide to Protecting Workforce Financial Wellbeing. Our sister company recently launched Benefex OneHub, a one-stop platform where companies can deliver global benefits, wellbeing, recognition, and rewards. Designed by clinicians and managed by a team of psychologists, it features real-time actionable insights, data-driven design, end-to-end workflows, integration with other workplace systems, and 24/7 support in over 100 languages.

Bank of Ireland, Diageo, Shopify and Salesforce have already signed up to the award-winning wellbeing solution. With benefits in Ireland proving particularly complex, Benefex led an on-demand webinar to offer guidance. Experts gathered to discuss how companies can streamline the benefits process and reduce the administrative burden.

We’re very excited to bring Benefex to Ireland as we believe it will suit employers’ needs to communicate with staff about benefits by centralising all related information in a single place. OneHub helps deliver lifestyle savings to make pay go further as well as employee benefits that protect against key risks, encourage healthy habits, and save money. Actionable insights help our customers to build data-driven health and wellbeing.”

Mark Sexton, Zellis Ireland 

The role of payroll and HR in employee engagement and wellbeing

Using interactive digital payslips helps employees to better understand their pay and benefits. Offering payroll-linked tools, financial education, and support helps to further boost financial wellbeing. Payroll can also be a vehicle for charitable giving via integrated solutions.

Committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals encourages employees to feel seen, respected and motivated at work. By better understanding the workforce make-up thanks to data insights, employers can set, track, and achieve ambitious DEI goals.

Believing that employee experiences can be a catalyst for change, Zellis brings these possibilities together. The MyView self-service portal for payroll and HR lets employees access and update their information, keep better track of earnings, and plan accordingly. In parallel, managers can easily oversee their team’s activities.

Meanwhile, the wider suite of Zellis HCM Cloud solutions enables employers to offer benefits, reward, and recognition, promoting employee engagement and wellbeing.

Find out more about how Zellis solutions enhance to employee experience