More well-being programs include employee financial security features

As more employers recognize the impact of financial wellness on employee health, a growing percentage of companies are expanding their well-being programs to include employee financial security, according to the 8th annual survey on corporate Health and Well-being from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health. The survey, which includes responses from 141 large and mid-sized organizations, reveals 84 percent of companies now have financial security programs, such as access to debt management tools or student loan counseling, in their well-being strategies, an increase from 76 percent last year. Financial security programs are the third most-popular offering, following physical well-being programs (95 percent) and emotional health programs (87 percent).

Employee incentives.

Nearly three-quarters of employers (74 percent) include employee incentives, with the average employee incentive amount increasing to $742, up from $651 in 2016 and $521 in 2013. Employers are also increasing incentives for spouses and domestic partners, with the average annual spouse/domestic partner incentive at $694, a 47 percent increase over the 2016 average of $471.
The most popular financial security programs are seminars and “lunch-n-learn” programs with 82 percent of employers expected to offer these in 2017. Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) will offer access to tools to support key financial decisions including mortgages, wills and income protection. Another 71 percent expect to offer tools and resources to support emergency savings, debt management and budgeting. A quarter of employers plan to offer student loan counseling or repayment assistance.
The most popular physical well-being programs continue to be smoking cessation (91percent), physical activities/challenges (86 percent) and weight management (79 percent).

Standing up for wellness.

There is a growing trend towards physical well-being programs that can have a healthy impact on employees at work. Currently, 55 percent of companies offer a “sit-to-stand” ergonomic desk or treadmill workstation, an increase from 43 percent last year. Employers also recognize the impact of fitness wearables on employee health – 30 percent will offer subsidies or discounts in 2017. Companies are also focusing on healthy on-site food options for their workforce – 48 percent have policies regarding healthy food options in their cafeteria, vending machines and catering. In addition, 28 percent of organizations offer discounts or price differentials on healthy food options in the cafeteria.

Increase in giving and volunteering opportunities.

The percentage of employers encouraging community involvement and charitable activities is increasing. The percentage of well-being plans that include team-building volunteer programs increased from 67 percent to 79 percent, while the percentage of employers offering a charitable match giving program increased from 65 percent to 71 percent. Employers are also adding cause-based collection drives, with the percentage of companies offering these programs increasing to 88 percent from 77 percent last year.
“The concept behind holistic well-being is to enable employees to meet their goals rather than tell them what they need to do,” said Brian Marcotte, President and CEO of National Business Group on Health. “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.”
“As these programs evolve, employers are embracing a broader definition of well-being to increase participation and engagement among their workforce,” said Adam Stavisky, senior vice president, Fidelity Benefits Consulting. “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.”
SOURCE: National Business Group on Health press release, April 11, 2017.
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