In recent years, health and wellbeing across Europe has been impacted by a number of macro factors which has led the majority of European employers to think more holistically and traditionally about employee wellbeing.

Already under-funded and under-resourced state health systems have faced increasing pressure, exacerbated by the pandemic, and on top of this, we’re facing a challenging socio-economic environment. As a result, people are struggling to stay well – emotionally, financially, socially, and physically.

And all of this means increased costs for employers.

These ‘social determinants’ of health are an emerging area of focus for progressive organisations who want to understand the overall health and health outcomes for their employee demographic. There’s an increased focus on the impact of ‘controllable’ or ‘avoidable’ risks, which is where an individual, or an employer, has some control over decisions that will impact health.

Many ‘lifestyle’ and work related factors are heavily influenced by an individual’s health literacy, alongside their ability to access the right tools to be and stay healthy. Plus, there’s lots of evidence that shows that the ability to control your work environment and work you do makes you more productive and engaged.

As a result, we’re seeing an explosion of digital health and wellbeing solutions to remedy some of these issues.

But, with a growing spectrum of health issues to address, concerns around cost management and the desire to deliver a personalised employee experience that supports wellbeing, employers are faced with a challenging balance to get right.

So, how can organisations ensure they have a flexible, future-ready strategy and programme?


The baseline starting point for any successful programme needs to be data. The impact of AI and machine learning on data analytics and employee listening helps creates tactical and impactful programmes.

But you also need to capture traditional data to build a strong foundation. Have you got an accurate inventory of your health and wellbeing services? What are your gaps and, as importantly, your overlaps?

Without these baselines, it is impossible to create an effective programme. Layered over this, is the employee insights and health risk data at an organisational level.  And we shouldn’t forget benchmarking data. Rather than benchmarking against peer groups, assess the benefits and support you offer against your employee demographic to measure if it meets their specific needs.  AI can help pull together and analyse data sets to truly understand the picture of employee health, wellbeing, risks and needs.

Stakeholder engagement

In addition to baseline of data insights, you also need to ensure you have key stakeholders engaged and actively supporting the strategy and programme.  Even the most robust and well-thought-through programme will not succeed if the organisational culture is not aligned to objectives.

Equally, what shouldn’t be overlooked is the engagement of external stakeholders. Carrier and vendor partners are another critical component to success.

Tactical solutions, targeted interventions

Using your specific data insights will enable you to identify risks and appropriate, targeted interventions and needs. These can be deployed to address risk hotspots and the needs of your specific employee demographics.

This is where effective technology, and effective use of technology is key. Tactical solutions need to be delivered to the right people, at the right time and in the right way.

Leveraging AI in combination with other, more traditional, tools and approaches, will ensure you meet needs and deliver in those ‘moments that matter’ for employees.

Measuring impact

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of how you measure the impact of your programme and your interventions. What will success look like? How will you know if you’ve made an impact?  And, as importantly, how will you know if you need to change your approach and tactics?

Constant review and monitoring is essential to ensure you continue to address the priority risks and needs for your organisation, and your people. It’s a continuous process and allows you to pivot quickly, if needed.

The key theme, and challenge, is personalisation and addressing specific and individual employee needs effectively. And there are ways that you can impact both:

  • Create a well-structured strategy
  • Base it on your organisations data and insights; your specific employee demographic
  • Create a tactical and targeted programme
  • Make it simple and accessible
  • Measure the impact – and change the approach as needed.

The result will be improved health outcomes and benefit costs.

This is the positive impact that AI and technology can have on employee health and wellbeing. It enables businesses to more effectively manage costs, whilst still delivering a personalised experience and improving employee wellbeing.

The question that you need to ask now is simple: is your programme future ready?

If the answer is no, then can you afford not to act?

Lucie McGrath
Lucie McGrath
Health, Equity and Wellbeing Lead at WTW | + posts

Lucie is the Health, Equity and Wellbeing Lead at WTW, where she helps organisations design and implement innovative and effective employee benefit programmes. Her experience as a consultant, and as a benefit provider, spans healthcare, wellbeing and occupational health services. She is a passionate advocate of inclusivity in health and wellbeing strategies and benefit programmes and supports clients to articulate their strategic vision and bring it to life, focusing on encouraging individual behaviour change to achieve optimum outcomes for both employee and employer.