Employers may (and do) think they’re doing well by their employees with health and well-being strategies they bring into the workplace, but employees? Not so much. In fact, the majority say those initiatives don’t meet their needs.
Willis Towers Watson research finds that while 56 percent of employers believe their current health and well-being programs are working to encourage employees to live a healthier lifestyle, according to the Willis Towers Watson 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, only 32 percent of employees agree with them.
In fact, with regard to well-being initiatives specifically, 61 percent of employees say their employers’ programs don’t meet their needs. Employers do a little better when it comes to core medical plans meeting employee needs, with 81 percent of employers believing they do, compared with 66 percent of employees.
Another disconnect between boss and worker occurs on the topic of whether employers should take an active role in encouraging employees to live healthy lifestyles. While nearly nine out of 10 employers (87 percent) say they should, just 54 percent of employees agree.
“Our research shows that there is considerable opportunity for employers to improve their health and well-being programs in the eyes of employees,” Shelly Wolff, a senior health care consultant at Willis Towers Watson, says in the report.
Wolff adds, “Not only is there a gap between employers’ and employees’ perceptions of the effectiveness of existing programs, there is also disagreement over how involved employers should be in encouraging employees to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. Employers that listen to their employees and formulate strategies that take their needs into account will have the most success re-designing existing programs and introducing new ones.”
Nonetheless, employers plan to plow ahead in escalating escalate efforts to support employee well-being. Over the next three years, employers say they will focus on all four components of well-being, including physical, emotional, social and financial well-being.
Of these, after physical health, emotional well-being is emerging as the number one priority, with nearly six times the number of employers (71 percent) expecting to take steps to improve employees’ emotional well-being over the next three years. Today it stands at just 12 percent. Employers plan to start by redesigning existing employee assistance programs, with 25 percent having already done so; 14 percent plan to in 2018, and 23 percent are considering it for 2019.
They don’t plan to ignore the other parts of the equation, however; 84 percent of employers plan steps to improve employees’ physical well-being, up from 27 percent today; 66 percent are increasing support to improve financial well-being, up from 16 percent; and 49 percent expect to encourage improved social well-being, up from 12 percent.