COVID-19 overturned almost everything across the globe. While the economic fall affected the financial lives of many, the social restrictions led to many other health and wellbeing concerns.
The impact on employee health and wellbeing was of most concern for employers. Poor employee wellbeing led to a lack of engagement, higher absenteeism, lower productivity, and higher turnover rates.
Studies show that employee turnover is expensive. Also, many employers have made employee health and wellness an integral part of their redefined workplace strategies. Many employers have started offering or reconsidering their workplace benefits and employee engagement strategies to reduce turnover and improve overall wellbeing.
Transamerica Institute and its Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies examined the pandemic’s impact on employers, their response, and timely opportunities. On behalf of TI, The Harris Poll conducted the online survey from November 18 to December 20, 2020, with a sample of 1,903 employers. The potential respondents were business executives who made decisions about employee benefits at their company.
The study outcomes showed that many employers are offering various workplace benefits for employee health and wellness. Of them all, workplace wellness programs were of the most importance.
Employer-Sponsored Health and Welfare Benefits
In our previous blog, we discussed the various employer-sponsored health and welfare benefits offered for employee wellbeing.
Almost 70% of employers offered one or more kinds of employee health and welfare benefits. The most frequently offered health and welfare benefits included –
- 57% – Health insurance
- 33% – Life insurance
- 29% – Employee assistance program
- 24% – Workplace wellness program
- 18% – Financial wellness programs
- 17% – Critical illness insurance
With almost one in four employers offering workplace wellness programs, it was a favorite amongst the offered employee benefits.
Employee Wellness Programs as Workplace Benefits
Small size (1 – 99 workers) companies were less likely to offer any employee health and wellness benefits compared to the mid-size (100 – 499 workers) and large companies (more than 500 workers). According to the study, only 18% of small companies offered employee wellness programs compared to 39% of medium and 55% of large companies.
Previously, workplace wellness programs were limited to physical health and fitness programs. However, they have evolved with time to accommodate the latest employee wellbeing trends. In addition to physical wellbeing, most modern comprehensive workplace programs focus on different holistic health dimensions like mental health, financial wellbeing, healthy lifestyle habits, and more.
According to the study, of the 24% of employers offering workplace wellness programs, the most frequently offered components included –
- Mental health support – 58%
- Fitness programs – 50%
- Screenings/assessments – 48%
- Educational resources – 47%
- Behavior change programs – 45%
- Mental health support – This included stress management programs, expert coaching, therapy, and mental wellness challenges. 65% each of medium and large size employers, and 54% of small companies offered these programs.
- Fitness programs – Gym reimbursements, on-site fitness classes, equipment as rewards or incentives, nutrition programs, and health coaching. 51% of large, 63% of medium, and 47% of small-sized companies offered these programs.
- Screenings/assessments – Annual health screenings, physicals, biometric screenings, health assessments, vaccinations, and likewise. 64% of large, 49% of medium, and 40% of small-sized companies offered these programs.
- Educational resources – Webinars, seminars, health coaching, emails, printed materials, discussions, and intranet sources. 56% of large, 47% of medium, and 43% of small-sized companies offered these programs.
- Behavior change programs – alcohol abuse, weight management, smoking cessation, substance use, regular exercise, and other healthy lifestyle programs. 51% of large, 52% of medium, and 40% of small-sized companies offered these programs.
- Mindfulness programs – meditation, relaxation techniques, yoga, and other stress management activities. 34% of large, 31% of medium, and 35% of small-sized companies offered these programs.
- Financial incentives – rewards and incentives for completing or participating in wellness challenges and health activities. Cash rewards, e-gift cards, HSA/FSA contributions, premium discounts, and more. 47% of large, 39% of medium, and 34% of small-sized companies offered these programs.
The other less frequently offered components of the employee wellbeing programs were –
- Building a healthy workplace culture – 38%
- Ergonomic workstations – 36%
- Tracking of activities and wellness goals – 36%
Almost 54% of employers said the average participation and employee engagement in the workplace wellness programs were either very high (22%) or high (32%). While high levels indicated 41 – 50% participation, very high levels indicated more than 50% participation.
Also, large companies were more likely to report high (35%) and 25% very high average participation levels. Medium companies reported 45% and small companies reported 31% of medium-level participation (21 – 40% participation).
Offering the right workplace benefits is a win-win for employees and employers. While it can attract and retain skilled employees that improve productivity, employees feel motivated and appreciated, thus, improving their mental health. With employers being really concerned about their employee health and wellbeing, the rightly designed workplace wellness programs can be the best solution to overcome most concerns.