Recent studies show that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected scores of employees across the globe. And so, employers are amping up their employee health and wellbeing support, and are ready to invest more wellness dollars in their workplace wellness programs, compared to what they did in the past few years.
Fidelity Investments and Business Group on Health surveyed 166 jumbo, large, and medium-sized organizations. The outcomes revealed that employers were focusing on developing the right workplace wellness programs that address employee benefits needs and specific health and wellbeing requirements, including mental health, social wellbeing, financial wellness, and work-life balance. Also, 80% of employers agreed that diversity, equity, and inclusion impacted their workplace culture and employee wellbeing strategies.
The study also showed that employers are investing more of their wellness dollars to support their employee wellbeing strategies.
Compared to an average of $4.9 million in 2020, the total budget of the employee wellness programs increased by 22% to $6 million in 2021.
In large organizations with more than 20,000 employees, the average budget of the workplace wellness programs by $100,000 in 2020, to reach $10.5 million.
The average budget per employee was $230 in 2020, which slightly increased to $238 in 2021.
The head of Fidelity Workplace Consulting said that the pandemic-induced changes have allowed employers to leverage their workplace wellness programs. And so, they are designing these programs to evolve and address the unique health and wellbeing challenges of the workforce. The key focus has shifted towards employee mental health, financial wellness, and DEI strategies.
Plenty of studies have proven the impact of the pandemic on declining employee mental health. The key stressors were burnout, anxiety, depression, multiple responsibilities, and uncertainty, to name a few. In 2021, almost 92% of employers offered employee wellness programs focusing on mental and emotional health. These workplace wellness programs included holistic programs like better sleep, stress management, and other employee wellbeing programs.
On the other hand, almost 69% of employers started offering paid leave benefits and expanded their flexible working schedules. Also, 74% of employers offered programs to support employee work-life balance during the pandemic.
Many employers also expanded their employee benefits package to support parental leave, child or eldercare. While 64% enhanced their childcare support, 55% offered paid parental or caregiver leaves, and 48% offered backup for childcare support.
As financial health became a cornerstone for most employee wellness-related concerns, employers started focusing on financial wellness programs too. Financial health investments started growing, and almost 83% of employers said they were planning to offer financial wellness programs. These programs mainly focused on helping employees make better investments, debt management, building emergency funds, and budget. Also, 77% said they would offer resources to support their workforce make better financial decisions about mortgages and income protection.
Experts at the Business Group on Health said that employers must focus on creating a healthier, happier, and more productive workplace, even after the pandemic ceases. As employers across the world continue to up the ante on their employee wellbeing offerings and workplace wellness programs, it is bound to reflect in healthier, productive, and engaged workplaces. And so, the key is to stay aligned with the corporate wellness trends, and offer flexible employee benefits to support hybrid work and other wellbeing requirements.