- Many organizations have had to rethink their plans and investment areas for employee wellness during the pandemic.
- A new report by Wellable found that companies are focused on supporting their employees’ mental wellbeing.
- Support comes in numerous forms, such as telemedicine and stress management, while other benefits – such as gym memberships – have dropped in popularity.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted employee perks and benefits. Among the work areas impacted by the coronavirus is workplace wellness. As a result, last year (2020) presented new challenges for employers in all fields related to work.
Many organizations, therefore, found themselves in a position where they had no choice but to shift and rethink their plans and investment areas for employee wellness.
Though that was last year, the coronavirus pandemic continues to shape employee wellness offerings this 2021.
A recent report by Wellable found that “employers are investing most in mental health (88%), telemedicine (87%), stress management/resilience (81%), mindfulness and meditation (69%), and COVID-19 risk intake/wellness passport programs (63%).”
As noted by the report, “it is clear that companies are extremely focused on and dedicated to supporting mental well-being.” And for good reason.
Mental health has been a top priority for organizations for the past couple of years. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of addressing mental health became much more urgent as employees experienced bereavement, isolation, loss of income, and fear.
With stress and anxiety levels at an all-time high, it’s encouraging to see that employers of all sizes are taking notice.
Top Employee Wellness Benefits and Programs
1. Mental Health
According to the report, “employee mental health is at the top of everyone’s minds in the coming year (2021). Nearly nine out of ten employers plan to invest more in this area, with just 1% planning to invest less (all of which are small companies).”
Telemedicine programs experienced a dramatic increase in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic. According to Wellable, 87% of employers plan to invest more in telemedicine programs this year, “a full 25 percentage points higher than the previous year.”
3. Stress Management/Resilience
Stress management and resilience programs have been on the rise since 2018. Because of the pandemic and the ensuing stress and anxiety it has caused among workers of all ages, it’s no surprise that 81% of companies plan to invest in this area more this 2021.
“Employees are facing more stress and behavioral health impacts due to the many financial struggles, health fears, social distancing measures, and other anxiety-inducing disruptions to normal life brought on by COVID-19.”
4. Mindfulness and Meditation
“Mindfulness and meditation benefits remain a popular investment with well over two-thirds (69%) of employers planning to spend more on this area of health.” Mindfulness and meditation have played and will continue to play an important role in supporting employees’ mental health as they continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. COVID-19 Risk Intake/Wellness Passport
This new wellness offering aims to mitigate the risk of unknowingly exposing employees and other individuals to the virus within a workplace. This is an attractive wellness program because it is cost-effective, it can supplement other safety measures, and it can be easily implemented.
Wellness Programs that Aren’t So Hot Anymore
Just as COVID-19 is shaping wellness programs and benefits that are increasing in popularity, the pandemic has played a key role in determining which programs and benefits are losing favor with companies of all sizes.
“Health fairs (60%), free healthy food/stocked kitchens (54%), biometric screenings (53%), on-site fitness classes (48%), and gym membership reimbursement (38%) all ranked the highest in terms of the percentage of employers expecting to invest less.”
Restrictions resulting from the pandemic, as well as physical distancing measures have made the above programs unattractive or too challenging to implement. Therefore, it is no surprise that companies are limiting or eliminating the availability of such programs, specifically shared food options and gym memberships.
It’s also hard to implement shared food options or health fairs when people are, for the most part, not going into the office.
One important downside to not providing shared food options is that companies have turned to pre-packaged meals, which are not as healthy and nutritious as fresh food options.