Here’s how to understand the wellness landscape and determine what benefits to offer your workforce.
Robust healthcare offerings and employer-match retirement contributions just don’t cut it as a competitive benefits plan any longer. Once strictly the domain of forward-thinking big companies and corporations, wellness perks have officially gone mainstream. And today wellness offerings are a common component of benefits packages for companies of all sizes.
But if you’re an HR professional or benefits administrator, it can be hard to know where to start. Between financial wellness offerings to caregiver support programs, shaping a holistic wellness program can be overwhelming. But taking the time to understand the landscape and select the right offerings can pay off in the long run.
3 benefits of wellness programs
Implementing wellness programs can be a win-win for your employees and your business.
1. Promote productivity
Turns out, there’s nothing worse for productivity than stress. Whether employees are dealing with financial woes, mental health struggles, or health concerns, wellbeing — or a lack of it — affects job performance. But by providing company-sponsored wellness programs, employers can equip employees with practical skills and knowledge for greater wellbeing. In turn, companies benefit from a more focused and productive workforce.
2. Support retention
The employer-employee relationship is no longer strictly a business one. Today employees look to employers for support navigating life’s challenges and big events. Employees who feel their employees are doing so are likely to reward them with loyalty and referrals. A study by Optum found that employees with access to 7-8 wellness programs are 1.5x as likely to stay with their employer. They’re also more likely to recommend the company to others.
employees with access to 7-8 wellness programs are 1.5x as likely to stay with their employer. They’re also more likely to recommend the company to others.
3. Lower health costs for the company
At a time when healthcare costs are only expected to rise, wellness programs are a smart investment. The goal of wellness programs is to help employees adopt healthier behaviors. Healthy behaviors can lower health risks, which lessen the rate of chronic disease. And the less chronic disease in an organization, the lower the healthcare costs.
4 health and wellness programs that you should have on your radar in 2022
1. Mental health services
Mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse soared during the pandemic. With people confined to their homes and the economy teetering on the brink of a recession, mental health struggles became commonplace for millions of Americans. And orgs have realized these are costly issues to ignore. Depression alone is estimated to have cost employers between $17 to 44 million in lost productivity, as reported by the Society of Human Resource Management.
While companies have long offered employee assistance programs (EAPs), these typically only offer a fixed-number of sessions. EAPs can be a good place to start, but some employees are seeking support beyond 6 or 12 sessions. More recently, businesses of all sizes have expanded their mental health benefits to support employee wellness.
Some popular mental health wellness options include:
- Subscriptions to meditation apps
- Telehealth sessions
- Mental health stipends
2. Financial wellness programs
Financially stressed employees are 2.2x more likely to leave your company.
Today, employees are more stressed about money than ever. The financial uncertainty wrought by the pandemic and the high inflationary period we’re currently experiencing is pushing many to the brink. PwC’s Employee Financial Wellness Survey found that 60% of employees say finances are their #1 source of stress.
Consider some other findings from the PwC survey:
- Financially stressed employees are 2.2x more likely to leave your company
- Employers lose and average of $1,900 per employee per year in lost productivity due to financial stress
Offering a financial wellness benefit is an impactful way to support employee financial wellness. Employees can learn strategies for cash flow management, paying off debt, and saving for life goals. Employers can reap the benefits of a more financially literate workforce.
Some of the top financial wellness programs include:
- Financial literacy programs
- Financial wellness platforms
- Loan repayment assistance programs
3. Caregiver resources
Being a parent is tough — but so is being a caregiver. And while it’s usually evident which employees are parents, companies may not know that 20% of employees are caregivers. According to Voya Cares research, 44% of employees are unaware of the fact that 1 in 5 employees manage both a job and caregiving responsibilities.
Companies can take action to support the wellbeing of both parent and caregiver employees with coaching and support services. Take the big 4 accounting firm EY, for example. EY provides a number of caregiver resources, like coaching for soon-to-be-parents and elder care referrals.
For small and medium-sized businesses that may lack the financial and personnel resources of a firm like EY, there are other options. Employee resource groups can be powerful support services that bolster connection between employees. And 3rd party platforms and services like Torchlight can provide an option for outsourcing this wellness benefit.
4. Health screening and education
Companies can support health screening and education by offering the services on-campus or free of charge. Microsoft’s “Know Your Numbers” program had one mission: arm employees with the tools and know-how they needed for healthier lives. The program paired free biometric scanning with health assessments to give employees a clear snap-shot of their physical health.
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The impact of health and wellness programs
Health and wellness programs do a lot to support both the org and employee. Companies benefit from a more focused and productive workforce while boosting their employer brand. Over time, they may even lower their healthcare costs.
For employees, they receive measurable support from their employer in leading more healthful lives with greater instances of wellness. They benefit not only from the actual programs but also from a sense that their employer values their holistic wellbeing. But even if small business owners and HR professionals know this to be true, figuring out where to get started can be tough. For HR leaders eager to add to their health and wellness benefit offerings, the 4 programs outlined here are great starting point.