Why is Active Care the next big trend in employee wellbeing?

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In 2023, employee wellbeing and retention strategies need to evolve. Employees want more control and they’re looking to their employers to help them gain that control. From shopping and entertainment to transport and beyond, people now expect to be able to choose what they want, when they want, and how they want it. This includes their employee wellbeing experience - which should enhance, not conflict with, the autonomy and control they have become accustomed to in their day-to-day lives.

Cue Active Care, a proactive way to improve employee wellbeing and business performance by empowering employees to take control - by providing them with the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to act independently, both at work and beyond.

Full reference list available here.

What is Active Care?

For an employer, Active Care is a way to proactively enable and empower people to get the care they need, when and how they need it, so they are more engaged and productive at work.

For employees, Active Care is a way to actively participate in, and feel in control of, the wellbeing solutions that help them stay safe and well.

Based on a model of shared responsibility for physical and mental wellbeing, an Active Care culture is a high-performance culture - full of healthy employees who are happy with their wellbeing and actively contributing to positive business outcomes.


Why is Active Care the next big trend in employee wellbeing?

By acknowledging employee healthcare barriers, sharing responsibility for wellbeing, and empowering employees to actively participate in better outcomes, organisations are driving a meaningful shift in removing access barriers to health care - which has the potential for a seismic shift in employee and organisational outcomes. 

This is why Active Care is the next big trend in employee wellbeing.

“Access block for medical and mental health care is the most pressing issue of our time. More and more members are reaching out to us because they are feeling blocked from accessing care due to cost, or they cannot access quality care within a reasonable amount of time… With the average out-of-pocket charge increasing by 50 per cent over the last decade, people are increasingly looking for alternative ways to access professional medical care.”

– Dr Jamie Phillips, MB ChB, AFCHSM, DIMC RCS(Edin), MRCGP(UK), FACRRM(EM), Medical Director, Sonder

Benefits of Active Care

For employees

  • Improved health and safety behaviours and outcomes;
  • Greater wellbeing at work;
  • Increased job productivity;
  • Reduced need for sick leave or workers’ compensation;
  • Less inclination to quit due to poor personal wellbeing; and
  • Improved life (and work) satisfaction.

For organisations

  • Higher wellbeing and engagement rates; 
  • Reduced absenteeism, presenteeism, workers’ compensation claims, and payments to substitute workers;
  • Improved culture, retention, and ability to attract talent;
  • Improved productivity and quality of work/product/service; and
  • Strengthened reputation and resilience.

How can organisations facilitate active participation?

Active employee participation is central to a culture of Active Care. Once employees are empowered to improve their wellbeing outcomes, they need to actively participate in the solutions if they are to achieve their goals. This is infinitely easier if the solutions match their needs, terms, and schedule.

This is why organisations can learn from Netflix and Uber. These market leaders make active participation super easy, with solutions that are tailored, user-friendly, and 24/7 - which offer people the flexibility to decide when, where, and how to engage. They deliver simplicity, immediate gratification, and importantly, full control. If organisations want to put on-demand health care in the hands of their people, this is how to do it.

Can self-help apps facilitate active participation?

Yes, but they can’t replace human support, as self-help apps alone risk gaps in patient assessment, and their lack of human interaction can result in high user drop-off. As Rudd and Beidas said, self-help apps can provide valuable initial guidance, but they should complement, not substitute, professional health care and robust clinical governance. They should enhance a more holistic and comprehensive employee wellbeing strategy, not be the strategy.

Hence why the best Active Care solutions combine digital and human support.

Full reference list available here.


What should Active Care solutions provide?

The Active Care solutions that best facilitate active participation and better business outcomes provide:

  • The on-demand nature of immediate care (helping employees get well faster);
  • The convenience of self-help (knowledge resources to drive help-seeking behaviour early);
  • The expertise of human help (for improved accuracy and clinical efficacy); and
  • The simplicity of smart technology (giving employees one app, rather than 10-20 apps).

Full reference list available here.

Next steps

For organisations

  • Acknowledge that employees need help to access immediate, convenient, and affordable wellbeing care;
  • Commit to sharing the responsibility of employee access to health care;
  • Empower employees with the tools and resources they need to more easily access the health care they need when they need it;
  • Encourage active employee participation in their health behaviours and improved wellbeing outcomes; and
  • Ensure that active care is advocated from the top of the organisation, and wellbeing leaders are supported in their endeavours.

For wellbeing leaders

  • Cultivate a culture of active care and encourage employees to actively participate in their health solutions; 
  • Help managers promote positive wellbeing and design jobs for wellbeing (not just productivity and ROI);
  • Help managers understand the impact of poor wellbeing and recognise early warning signs; and
  • Help managers be mindful of health complexity, given that many people are dealing with intertwined health challenges, and each person responds to wellbeing concerns differently.


Wellbeing leaders know that when an employee is safe, happy, and healthy, they are more likely to be motivated, collaborative, and productive at work. The problem is that most leaders have been able to deliver short-term happiness but not long-term healthiness because:

Now that it's clear that poor wellbeing is costly to organisations, but many employees can’t get well without employer support, it’s time for organisations to step up - in fact, for many employees their health and safety depend on it

If leaders want to deliberately build a culture that enables and empowers employees to actively participate in positive health and safety behaviours and outcomes, they and their organisations need to take an active care approach - and act with a sense of urgency.

Full reference list available here.

“No disrespect to our prior EAP providers, but they aren't in the 21st century.”

Kate Mayers, WHS Manager - People & Culture | Best & Less


Missed an earlier article in this series?

Download our new report

If you’d like to access a deep-dive on this topic, we invite you to download our new evidence-backed guide, which aims to help you:

  • Appreciate why employee wellbeing needs to be a shared responsibility; 
  • Understand 5 key elements of an active care culture;
  • Learn the benefits for employees and organisations;
  • See how employee empowerment has led to better business outcomes; and
  • Shape your next steps.

Want to learn more?

For more information about how Sonder can help you rethink your employee and/or student support, we invite you to contact us here.

About Sonder

Sonder is an Active Care technology company that helps organisations improve the wellbeing of their people so they perform at their best. Our mobile app provides immediate, 24/7 support from a team of safety, medical, and mental health professionals - plus onsite help for time-sensitive scenarios. Accredited by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS), our platform gives leaders the insights they need to act on tomorrow's wellbeing challenges today.

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Sonder is reimagining health, safety and wellbeing support. Sonder proves human centric care leads to earlier intervention. Sonder impacts one person at a time to drive meaningful change across an organisation. Sonder understands people and how to support them.

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