Employers may (and do) think they’re doing well by theiremployees with health and well-being strategies they bringinto the workplace, but employees? Not so much. In fact, themajority say those initiatives don’t meet their needs.

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Willis Towers Watson research findsthat while 56 percent of employers believe their current health andwell-being programs are working to encourage employees to live ahealthier lifestyle, according to the WillisTowers Watson 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, only 32percent of employees agree with them.

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In fact, with regard to well-being initiatives specifically, 61 percentof 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, with81 percent of employers believing they do, compared with 66 percentof employees.

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Another disconnect between boss and worker occurs on the topicof whether employers should take an active role in encouragingemployees to live healthy lifestyles. While nearly nine out of 10employers (87 percent) say they should, just 54 percent ofemployees agree.

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“Our research shows that there is considerable opportunity foremployers to improve their health and well-being programs in theeyes of employees,” Shelly Wolff, a senior health care consultantat Willis Towers Watson, says in the report.

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Wolff adds, “Not only is there a gap between employers’ andemployees’ perceptions of the effectiveness of existing programs,there is also disagreement over how involved employers should be inencouraging employees to make lifestyle changes to improve theirhealth. Employers that listen to their employees and formulatestrategies that take their needs into account will have the mostsuccess re-designing existing programs and introducing newones.”

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Nonetheless, employers plan to plow ahead in escalating escalateefforts 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.

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Of these, after physical health, emotional well-being isemerging as the number one priority, with nearly six times thenumber of employers (71 percent) expecting to take steps to improveemployees’ emotional well-being over the next three years. Today itstands at just 12 percent. Employers plan to start by redesigningexisting employee assistance programs, with 25 percent havingalready done so; 14 percent plan to in 2018, and 23 percent areconsidering it for 2019.

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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 areincreasing support to improve financial well-being, up from 16percent; and 49 percent expect to encourage improved socialwell-being, up from 12 percent.

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