Employee wellness programs expand to well-being

Employer health and wellness programs now reach beyond traditional programs, which typically concentrate on physical health, to include well-being programs that have elements of mental and emotional health, financial health, work-life effectiveness, and workplace environment and stress, according to a new employer survey by WorldatWork.

Of the common well-being program categories, the top elements employers support are employee assistance program resource and referral at 80 percent, safety at 73 percent, immunizations at 73 percent, encouraged vacation time at 66 percent and retirement education at 57 percent.

The survey also finds that 96 percent of respondents offer employer-sponsored health care while 94 percent offer well-being programs. Another 77 percent of respondents plan to increase the number of well-being programs and activities offered.

Most respondents say well-being programs have a measurable positive impact on employee engagement at 87 percent, employee satisfaction at 84 percent and productivity at 76 percent. Among well-being programs, employers say they are partial to offering incentives for participation, and the majority neither incentivize nor penalize. Fewer than one in three employers provide coverage in well-being programs to their employees’ spouses or immediate family members.

“Organizations ought to consider a more rounded and integrated approach to their well-being programs,” says Rose Stanley, a WorldatWork Certified Benefits Professional and work-life practice leader. “One idea is to open up some of these programs, such as financial counseling or diet and nutrition, to extended family. This could potentially provide the support needed to change behavior.”

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