Employers eager to expand well-being programs

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Over the past few years, companies have realized that to have happy and productive employees, they have to address their overall well-being. That prompted the rise of well-being programs that not only include health-focused initiatives like weight loss and smoking cessation programs but financial wellness, debt management and budgeting as well.

According to new research from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health, two-thirds of companies plan to expand their well-being initiatives over the next three to five years to include programs not specifically focused on physical health. Ninety-two percent of employers said they are expanding their well-being platforms to include emotional health programs and 90% are now including financial wellness programs. Stress management training, community involvement, volunteering activities and social connectedness opportunities are also in the mix.

“The fact that companies continue to dedicate an increasing amount of resources to their corporate well-being programs indicates they are having a positive impact on overall workforce performance,” says Robert Kennedy, senior vice president, Fidelity Benefits Consulting in a statement. He adds, “These programs have evolved beyond traditional health and lifestyle activities to now include elements of financial security, social/emotional well-being, and even job satisfaction. An employer’s well-being programs are now overwhelmingly viewed as a platform to improve employee engagement, increase worker productivity and reduce absenteeism.”

The ninth annual Health and Well-Being Survey finds that 86% of companies are using financial incentives to improve the success of their well-being programs and 29% of employers said they plan to continue to increase the amount of financial incentives they offer to employees over the next three to five years. The average employee incentive amount increased from $742 in 2017 to $784 in 2018. That’s a 50% increase from 2013’s average of $521.

“More employers are viewing holistic well-being as an integral part of their overall workforce strategy,” says Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of the NBGH. “The goal is to create a competitive advantage by deploying the healthiest, most productive, engaged and competitive workforce possible to boost business performance and empower great people and communities.”

Companies are also looking for new ways to communicate and connect with employees and find ways to personalize content to increase engagement.

Among employers who say they personalize communication based on specific employee demographics, 85% say that their employee engagement has increased. Companies continue to use e-mail, internal websites and on-site promotions, but nearly half of employers say they also use mobile applications to communicate with employees.

Thirty-nine percent of employers say they use social media and 24% say they use personalized text messages to communicate with employees.

Global corporations have the added challenge of deciding whether to expand their well-being programs to employees in other countries. Forty-four percent of companies surveyed say they extend their well-being initiatives to other geographies, there are differences in how they deliver the programs to them, according to the survey.

Only 10% of these companies offer a well-being program based on their U.S. strategy, while 34% tailor their offerings for each location. Another 42% don’t offer a well-being strategy for employees in other geographies but they give local regions the ability to implement a program based on their specific needs, the report stated.

Ten percent of companies said they had no interest in offering a well-being program to employees outside of the United States.

The survey, which was conducted last November and December, included responses from 162 jumbo, large and mid-sized organizations that are members of NBGH and clients of Fidelity Investments.

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