Benefits play a key role in attracting and retaining employees. But that statement has never been truer than now. While there are few positives about living through a pandemic, one would be the spotlight placed on employees’ well-being and wellness strategies employers can use to help them stay physically and mentally fit.
For sure, employees have more power in the Great Resignation era, but now that they’re getting what they need to stay happy and healthy, employers are getting employees ready to work with passion and zest.
Employer support is happening in the areas of increased prioritizing employee assistance programs (EAPs), expanded wellness benefits and greater attention to work/life balance. That’s according to Ragan’s 2022 Communications Benchmark Report that surveyed close to 1,000 communicators across industries on opportunities and changes.
While it shouldn’t surprise you that providing well-being support was a huge focus in 2021 for employers, it may be a little surprising that only 67% said they increased it. Twenty percent said they didn’t increase it and 13% didn’t know. You would think with the tight race for talent nearly every employer would have upped their well-being support at least a little.
The main way employers did increase their support was:
- Employee assistance programs 74%
- Increased mental health support 63%
- Flex hours 60%
- Expanded wellness benefits 60%
- Organizational mindfulness 56%
- Leadership models work/life balance 34%
- Increased PTO 33%
- Physical health activities 32%
- Increased financial health assistance 16%
- Other 8%
For employers who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, it’s time to pack your bags and hitch a ride because it’s not going anywhere. Now that employees have had a taste of what real wellness and a more balanced work/life feels like, they’re not going to give it up.
So what trends are getting the thumbs up from employers for 2022?
They would be mental health (90%), telemedicine (80%), stress management and resilience (76%), mindfulness and medication (71%), and COVID-19 vaccinations (57%). Notice how many of them are tied to mental well-being.
Which trends are on the out? Well, on-site fitness classes (63%) for one. It’s easy to see why since many employers are still virtual or hybrid. If employers are offering fitness classes their typically virtual now. Other trends employers aren’t investing in any more are health fairs (59%), free healthy food/stocked kitchens (54%), biometric screenings (50%) and on-site clinics (35%).
As you can see, employers are moving away from benefits that require one-on-one interactions or being in the office. They’re finding new and different ways to provide these same wellness goals, but remotely. And often they’re more affordable.
Here are some of the 25 wellness strategies other organizations have implemented from Wellable Labs’ 2022 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report.
- Disease management – As long as there are chronic conditions, it’ll behoove employers to invest in disease management. If you can help a person with diabetes or heart disease, be healthier, you’ll have a happier, more productive employee, and less healthcare costs. That’s why 35% of respondents said they were investing even more this year in disease management.
- Financial wellness – This is a hot benefit right now because the pandemic put financial pressure on so many employees. And employees who are worried about paying bills aren’t concentrating on their work. That’s why 49% said they were investing more in financial wellness. Only 10% said they were investing less.
- On demand fitness classes – When the pandemic made on-site fitness classes obsolete, employers started experimenting with on-demand alternatives. And because they’re flexible and cheaper, 47% said they would be investing more in them this year. As for on-site fitness classes, 63% said they’d be investing less in them.
- Gym membership reimbursement – Despite the fact gyms are open again, employees seem to like the virtual alternatives better. And because of this, employers aren’t going to be investing as much with only 15% saying they were increasing their investment and 34% investing less. Virtual options are cheaper and what employees seem to want. So those dollars will be invested elsewhere.
- Health education literacy – This benefit is an attempt to calm fears and health concerns tied to the pandemic. While 52% of employers don’t plan to increase their spending this year on health education literacy, 31% will increase their investment.
- Mental health – The pandemic showed employers how important mental health wellness is to their employees. It also showed them that it was their responsibility to provide employees with mental health solutions. That’s why 90% will be increasing their investment, and only 2% will invest less.
- Mindfulness/meditation – This benefit is growing in popularity. While first embraced by mostly large employers, now other businesses are trying it with 71% of respondents saying they planned to invest more.
- Physician engagement (annual physical) – Since COVID-19 caused so many people to avoid doctor’s offices, employers want to encourage employees to seek preventive care and treatment. That’s why 42% are increasing their investment and 50% are holding steady.