Mental And Financial Wellness Are The ‘Hottest’ Employee Well-being Offerings

Mental and financial wellness, along with caregiver support are the hottest workplace wellness programs for 2020
  • Wellable recently published its yearly Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report. 
  • The report identified the most highly and least valued workplace wellness programs for employers and employees alike. 
  • The report found that mental and financial wellness programs are among the hottest and most popular employee wellness offerings. 

Wellable recently published its 2020 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report. The annual report aims to quantify and better understand the wellness strategies that companies will be implementing in the upcoming year by looking at three key areas: investment trends, decision influencers, and vendor evaluation. 

The report found that one of the main drivers behind corporate wellness programs is the war for talent. “The tightening  labor market is allowing employees to be more selective about where they choose to work, creating an employer arms race to expand benefits while balancing costs.”

However, simply having wellness programs is not enough; organizations need to ensure that they are providing solutions that help employees thrive and enjoy work, while positively contributing to their overall life satisfaction. 

“Since these (workplace wellness) programs are more common than ever before, companies are also practicing greater discernment when it comes to the value of their offerings.”

Wellable reported some interesting findings around specific wellness programs and strategies, like which programs have been experiencing less and less investments over the past couple of years, and which strategies are most likely to be effective. 

Generally speaking, “employers are increasing their investment into health and well-being programs with more than double planning to invest more (35%) compared to those who plan to invest less (14%).” Wellable predicts that as wellness becomes more popular and as employees increasingly demand this type of offering, wellness programs are likely to see continued investment in the future. This is especially true of programs that are highly valued or cost effective. 

2020’s most highly and least valued workplace wellness programs 

The report found that mental health stress management, mindfulness and meditation, and financial wellness programs are expected to receive more investment this year. The report notes that, “considering that stress levels and mindfulness both play into overall mental health, these top three programs overwhelmingly show employers’ focus and dedication to mental wellness.”

However, it’s  important to note that organizations will be focusing on offering more tailored solutions to employees to cater to their different needs. For example, some employees might need assistance with paying down student loan debt, while others may need help planning for retirement.

The report highlights that “financial wellness may be one of the ‘hottest’ areas of employee well-being. More than 64% of employers will be investing more into improving the financial health of their employees. Only 7% plan to invest less in the coming year.”

On the opposite side of the investment spectrum are the following programs: health risk assessments, biometric screenings, health fairs, fitness classes, and health coaching. “These programs ranked the highest in terms of the percentage of employees expecting to invest less.”

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Wellable believes that the reason behind these programs losing popularity and investment is that “they are services, which means they are harder to scale, cost more per engaged employee, and are often unavailable to remote employees.” 

Regarding biometric screening and health risk assessments, organizations are likely investing less in these programs due to the increased potential of being sued following the judicial system vacating the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) wellness rules. 

Less investment for health fairs and fitness classes also marks the shift towards more individualized workplace wellness solutions. “Classes and fairs, by design, target broader audiences,” which can bring down engagement and increase costs. Wellable reports that organizations investing less in these programs are likely to replace them with newsletters and gym reimbursements. Furthermore, the report found that “a lack of resources and infrastructure can make it more challenging for companies to invest in this specific resource (on-site fitness classes).”

2020’s New Wellness Offerings

New wellness offerings also made the cut for the most highly valued programs. 

Wellable found that organizations are increasingly favoring resources that allow employees, particularly care giving employees, time away from work, with flexible schedules, remote work options, and paid time off. These offerings out-ranked other wellness programs by more than double or triple the percentage points. 

Following caregiver support, other new wellness offerings gaining popularity include counseling services and caregiver-provider referral services. “Both alleviate the stress of coordinating care, while counseling services in particular reflect the rapidly growing focus on employee mental health.”

Additional Findings

  • Disease management programs are here to stay. The report found that 88% of employers will be investing the same or more into disease management, with the number of companies investing more rising by 11 percentage points. 
  • Free healthy food continues to be valued by employees. The report found that the number of companies that expect to invest less went down by eight percentage points.
  • Health coaches are in, and they have been shown to drive employee engagement in wellness programs.
  • Health literacy is more important than ever, but companies may not be immediately recognizing its value. Wellable found that “while 87% of companies either plan to invest the same or more in health education and literacy, this is a decrease in nine percentage points from last year.”
  • Mental health remains a priority. “Of all wellness benefits, mental health programs experienced the most astounding increase in popularity.”
  • As a result of mental health increasing in popularity, so have mindfulness and meditation programs, particularly those directed towards alleviating stress. 
  • Speaking about stress, “‘seventy-three percent of employers will be investing more in stress management programs, up from 58% the year before.”
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