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22 health benefits on the rise
As healthcare costs continue to skyrocket, employers are looking to other health benefits to reduce their overall spend. These 22 benefits have increased in popularity year after year, and continue to be on the rise in 2018, according to the “2017 Inventory of Total Rewards Programs & Practices” report from global consulting firm Korn Ferry and global HR association WorldatWork.
Nearly three in four employers offered telemedicine services in 2017, up from 49% in 2016, according to the report. Of those employers, 62% offered telemedicine services as part of their healthcare plans, with an additional 12% offering the benefit as a standalone perk.
Behavioral health plan
Outside of an employee assistance program, behavioral health plans have become increasingly popular in benefits packages. More than nine in 10 employers (91%) offered the benefit in 2017, up from 78% in 2016, according to the report.
Employee assistance programs
EAPs are more prevalent than ever, with 96% of employers offering the benefit, up from 80% in 2016. Just because employers offer the benefit, however, doesn’t mean employees will use it — EAPs typically have utilization rates in the low single digits, benefits experts say.
Weight-management program offerings have grown to 70%, from 58%, in 2017. And the programs are likely to continue on that upward trajectory, especially as Americans increasingly gain weight, which they attribute to stress. Companies are turning to vendors like UnitedHealthcare-affiliated weight loss program, Real Appeal, to help workers create lasting healthy habits.
Seminars, webinars or literature to promote wellness and wellbeing
The number of employers offering seminars, webinars or literature to promote wellness and wellbeing grew by 11% in 2017, from 76% to 87%, according to the report.
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Tobacco- or smoking-cessation support
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 16% of American adults smoke cigarettes, the smoking cessation rate increased for the first time in 15 years, according to researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center. Employers are helping the cause by increasing their tobacco- or smoking-cessation support; the benefit increased to 84% in 2017, from 73%, according to the Korn Ferry and WorldatWork report.
Participatory wellness programs
Wellness programs are increasingly popular with companies aiming to improve their employees’ total health. Three in four employers polled in the Korn Ferry and WorldatWork report offered participatory wellness programs in 2017, up from 65% in 2016. Learn more about how Accenture leveraged its high-tech approach to engage 50,000 employees with its wellness program here.
Wellness incentives grew from 56% in 2016 to 66% in 2017, according to the report, despite increased regulations around them. If those incentives aren’t carefully communicated to employees and carefully designed, employers can face consequences, like a lawsuit.
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Stress-reduction programs and offerings
In the always-on workplace, employees continue to struggle with work-life balance, which includes work-related stress. Employers are attune to these problems and have increasingly offered stress-reduction programs and offerings like yoga and massages. Sixty-five percent of employers offered stress-reduction programs in 2017, up from 56% in 2016, according to the report. (See if your state or job is the most stressed out.)
Lactation-support services, such as education, lactation consultants and mother’s rooms in the office, rose from 65% to 71% in 2017, according to the report. Recently, Noodles & Company added breast milk shipping to its benefits package.
Health advocacy programs
Three in five employers offered a health advocacy program in 2017, up from 48% in 2016, according to the report. This month, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association partnered with Teledoc to reach as many rural members as possible and increase healthcare engagement.
Outcomes-based wellness programs
Outcomes-based wellness programs rose to 43% in 2017, up from 32% in 2016, according to the report. Employers are turning to high-performance health innovators to improve outcomes and lower costs, according to Employee Benefit News.
Health coaching increased to 72% in 2017, up from 63% in 2016, according to the report. It’s also one of five simple ways to engage employees in wellness, according to Employee Benefit News.
On-site or virtual health fairs have increased in popularity among employers, with 64% of companies offering the benefit in 2017, according to the report. By creating a “one-stop shop” for employees to browse health and wellness options, they are more likely to buy into it — and reduce a company’s health spend.
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Nutrition counseling, regardless if it’s on-site or covered by the medical plan, is growing popular among employers. Sixty-six percent of employers offered the benefit in 2017, up from 57% in 2016, according to the report. Technology can help employers reach their goal. For example, EBN Benefits Technology Innovator Jason Langheier is looking to reshape the food landscape for workers by surfacing the healthiest options via mobile device.
Gamification is an increasingly popular strategy for changing employee behaviors, where employers use contests, lotteries, points, quizzes, leaderboards or avatars to create meaningful change. Fujifilm, for example, uses gamification to communicate benefits. However, less than half (45%) of employers used the strategy in 2017, up from 37% in 2016, according to the report.
Certified nurse practitioner conducts a check-up on a patient at a Community Clinic Inc. health center in Takoma Park, Maryland, U.S. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Frequent performance check-ins
Quarterly or monthly performance check-ins made a small jump in popularity from 2016 to 2017, from 42% to 50%, according to the report. Millennials are known to want frequent feedback, and it seems employers are beginning to accommodate those requests.
Immunization clinics or promotions
With this year’s flu season as one of the most deadly on record, more employers are looking to add immunization clinics or promotions. Seventy-seven percent of employers offered immunization clinics or promotions in 2017, up from 70% in 2016, according to the report.
Health-risk assessment offerings grew by 71% in 2017, up from 64% in 2016, according to the report. A 2011 story published in Employee Benefit Newsdeclared health-risk assessments a “waste of time [and] money,” but the trend seems to have outlasted this prediction.
Likely offered through a health fair, discounted fitness-club membership or fitness-related subsidies have grown by 6% year-to-year, according to the report. More than seven in 10 employers (71%) offered these benefits in 2017, up from 65% in 2016. In fact, Americans tend to prioritize the gym and dentist over financial planning.
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24-hour nurse line
Workers expect 24-hour access to most aspects of their life, including healthcare. Employers recognize this need, with more than three quarters (79%) offering access to a 24-hour nurse line in 2017, compared to 69% in 2016, according to the report.
Biometric and wellness screenings, done on-site or through a doctor’s visit, is more popular than ever. More than three in four employers (77%) offered biometric and wellness screenings in 2017, up from 69% in 2016, according to the report. Biometric screenings are more cost-efficient when conducted on-site, according to Employee Benefit News.