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June 13, 2023

Workplace Wellness Trends & Innovations

Workers are stressed. According to a Gallup poll, employee stress has reached an all-time high, with 44% of employees saying they experienced a lot of stress the previous day. As stress can impact engagement and retention, this should be an eye-opening revelation for employers. To keep their workers happy and productive – and even keep them at all – employers need to stay current with the latest workplace wellness trends and innovations.

A Widening Scope

In the recent past, employers focused on physical wellness programs that targeted things like smoking and obesity. The reasoning was sound: common health issues lead to sick days or even force workers into early retirement and health problems drive up healthcare costs.

However, there’s a lot more to wellness than a person’s weight. Although physical wellness is still important, Cigna says workplace wellness has evolved. The current focus is more holistic – the term “well-being” is often used in place of “wellness” to encompass physical, environmental, emotional, financial, and social health.

According to Cigna, 77% of HR professionals say they promote physical well-being, 67% workplace environmental well-being, 67% emotional well-being, 62% financial well-being, and 52% social well-being.

Supporting Mental Health

Mental health emerged as a top employee wellness issue during the pandemic. Today, it’s still a priority.

According to the 2023 Workplace Mental Health Trends Report from Calm, 67% of workers think employers should provide support for stress and anxiousness, whereas only 33% say this should be up to the individual. Furthermore, 63% say preventative mental healthcare is as important as preventative physical healthcare and 75% say their mental health is closely related to their physical health. The takeaway is clear: employers shouldn’t just focus on physical health and ignore mental health. Employees expect employers to step up.

Managing Money Stress

According to CNBC, 70% of Americans say they’re stressed about their personal finances and 52% say their financial stress has become worse during the pandemic. Inflation is a common factor – with 60% of respondents citing it as a main contributor to their financial stress.

For many Americans, personal finances may take a turn for the worse this year. Federal student loan payments have been paused for three years as part of efforts to relieve problems caused by the pandemic, but according to payments are expected to resume no later than September 2023. Employers should anticipate an increase in money-related stress when this happens.

Finding a Work–Life Balance

Work–life balance is another key issue that developed during the pandemic and has continued to receive attention. During the pandemic, many people sought a work–life balance (and avoided infection) by working from home. According to Pew Research Center, 64% of workers say remote work has made it easier to balance work with personal life. However, this arrangement doesn’t offer a work–life balance if employees are expected to be on call 24/7 and can’t use their vacation time.

A survey from Remote.co found that 84% of professionals say they consider remote work options when evaluating job offers and 70% consider work–life balance. The 2022 Career Pulse Survey from FlexJobs found that 63% of respondents would choose a better work–life balance over higher pay.

Creating Value

Employees often complain that companies see them as numbers, not people. Now they’re demanding more.

According to Gartner, workers “have developed a new sense of self-awareness and worth.” However, while 82% of employees say it’s important for their employers to see them as a person, only 45% believe their organization does.

As employee wellness evolves, strategies to better communicate and cultivate individual value and purpose may be the next step.

Leveraging Technology

Employers must find ways to support employees as whole people, including by focusing on workers’ physical, mental, and financial health. Technology is helping.

  • Digital tools can help employees track everything from their financial goals to their physical activity levels.
  • Telehealth benefits can provide better access to mental and physical healthcare.
  • Online enrollment tools can help employees understand their benefits and make wise enrollment decisions.

The bar has been raised. Are your employee benefits keeping up? Heffernan Insurance Brokers can design an employee benefits package to help you keep up with rising expectations and workplace wellness trends and innovations. Learn more.


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