More employers investing in “total well-being” programs

More employers are investing in “total well-being” programs that address areas such as financial and emotional health, according to the seventh annual survey on corporate health and well-being from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). The survey revealed employers are adding programs that help employees manage stress, improve their resiliency and assist with their financial challenges.

Employers are beginning to recognize that a “healthy” employee may be affected by non-health factors and are including programs to address emotional and financial needs rather than focusing solely on physical health. In 2016, 87 percent of employers offer emotional or mental well-being programs and 76 percent provide financial health programs. When employers were asked about well-being programs in the future, 67 percent plan to expand their efforts, and an additional 17 percent plan to maintain at the current level.

“Employers have long understood the importance of improving employee productivity, and are now focused on the factors that impact productivity, specifically, drivers of well-being, such as emotional stress and financial challenges to achieve their goals,” said Adam Stavisky, senior vice president at Fidelity Benefits Consulting.

The study found that stress management is the most popular emotional well-being program offered: 54 percent of employers currently offer this program and an additional 12 percent are planning to do so in 2017. Also popular is resiliency training, which helps employees manage setbacks in the workplace or in life outside work: 27 percent of employers offer this program, with another 20 percent planning to do so in 2017.

To help employees manage their financial well-being, 73 percent of companies surveyed offer on-site financial seminars, and 59 percent make a financial coach available to employees. Student loan repayment assistance, a benefit typically only offered in the public sector, will now be offered by 13 percent of employers in 2016, and another 21 percent are considering adding it in the future.

Incentives. In 2015, 81 percent of employees received at least some amount of incentives, up from 73 percent in 2014. The percent of employees receiving incentives steadily increased as employers expand well-being programs to appeal to additional elements of overall well-being, as well as provide employees with more ways to earn incentives. At the same time, as employers expand into new areas, they are moving away from outcomes-based incentives as one way to encourage employees to participate. The number of employers utilizing outcomes-based incentives is expected to drop from 44 percent in 2015 to 24 percent in 2016.

“Social factors and one’s environment play an important role in employee engagement and in one’s view of their overall well-being,” said Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health. “We are seeing more companies step up their efforts to integrate financial and emotional well-being, social connectedness and job satisfaction with their more traditional efforts to support physical health.”

SOURCE: NBGH press release, April 1, 2016.

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