More employers offering financial wellness benefits

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As workplace wellness continues to evolve, more companies are looking beyond helping employees with just their physical and emotional health.

Fiscal wellness is of growing interest of employers, according to new research from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health. 84% of companies say they now have financial security programs — such as access to debt management tools or student loan counseling — in their well-being strategies. That’s an increase from 76% last year.

“Today’s programs take more of a ‘health meets wealth’ approach and reflect a blend of financial, physical and social/emotional programs to provide maximum support for members,” says Adam Stavisky, senior vice president at Fidelity Benefits Consulting. “As these programs evolve, employers are embracing a broader definition of well-being to increase participation and engagement among their workforce.”

See also: Debt should be priority in financial wellness programs

The most popular financial security programs are seminars and “lunch-n-learn” programs with 82% of employers expected to offer these this year.

Nearly three-fourths also say they will offer access to tools to support key financial decisions including mortgages, wills and income protection. Further, another 71% expect to offer tools and resources to support emergency savings, debt management and budgeting. Student loan counseling or repayment assistance programs are also expected to be offered by roughly a quarter of the employers surveyed.

“The concept behind holistic well-being is to enable employees to meet their goals rather than tell them what they need to do,” says Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of NBGH. “Financial well-being is an important well-being pillar as it’s hard to engage employees on addressing health needs if they are struggling with managing a budget, putting food on the table or managing debt.”

Physical and emotional wellness also continues to trend upward in program offerings. Currently, 55% of companies offer a “sit-to-stand” ergonomic desk or treadmill workstation, up from 43% last year, the research says.

Wearables also remain impactful to these programs, and more employers are tapping into that technology, with 30% saying they will offer subsidies or discounts on wearables this year.

And as these wellness programs continue to evolve, employers are looking at ways to better engage employees to make full use of the programs.

Incentives continue to be a critical part of well-being programs, the survey notes, with 74% of employers including an average employee incentive amount of $742, up from $651 in 2016 and $521 in 2013.

Additionally, employers are also increasing incentives for spouses and domestic partners, with the average annual spouse/domestic partner incentive at $694, a 47% increase over the 2016 average of $471.

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Wellness programs Health and wellness Outcomes-based wellness incentives Financial wellness Retirement planning Retirement readiness Retirement education Retirement benefits Healthcare plans Healthcare benefits Mental health Mental health benefits