Just as the pandemic has impacted nearly every other aspect of life, workplace wellness is also changing. Wellness staples like healthy snacks, smoothie bars, and onsite yoga classes are no longer priorities for many employers, as many of their team members work remotely. Instead, their concerns have turned toward overall well-being, including mental health, financial wellness, and physical fitness.
The workplace phenomenon known alternatively as the “Great Resignation” and the “Great Reshuffle” continues, with more than 4 million Americans quitting their jobs each month as of April 2022. Employers are scrambling to beef up their benefits programs and differentiate themselves from other employers competing for the same labor pool.
Here are some of the top trends right now in workplace wellness.
Mental Health Benefits
Mental health is at the top of everyone’s minds. Although one in five American adults will experience some form of mental illness this year, only one in three of those who need mental health care will get it.
Although the problem predates the pandemic, remote working further upsets work-life balance by blurring the lines between work and home, with many of us working longer hours (consciously or unconsciously) and never really switching off.
Improvement in mental health benefits can have an immediate and significant impact on a company’s success. Research shows that nearly 86 percent of workers who receive help with depression report improvement in their work performance. Treatment of depression also reduces absenteeism and presenteeism by as much as 60%. More than a third of respondents in one survey reported having left a job partly due to mental health issues.
Fortunately, 90% of employers plan to invest more in mental health programs this year, with 76% increasing stress management and resilience initiatives and 71% increasing investment in mindfulness and meditation programs.
Stress Management and Resilience
Well before any of us had ever heard of COVID-19, nearly two-thirds of employees reported being stressed at work either all or most of the time. With the arrival of the pandemic, stress levels soared.
Not surprisingly, 81% of companies will be spending more this year on stress management and resilience. Examples of stress and resilience benefits include:
- Stress management training courses
- Guided meditation platforms like Headspace or Calm
- Digital helpdesk for employees feeling stressed
- Voice analysis apps to monitor worker stress (e.g., Nemesysco)
Telehealth is the process of having remote contact with medical providers for the delivery of care, advice, monitoring, and remote admissions.
In their 2022 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report, Wellable Labs reports that 87% of all employers (90% of small companies) are investing more in telehealth this year.
Wellness programs such as self-care subscription services, on-demand fitness classes, workplace wellness apps, and health coaching remain popular and are being given a second look by many companies. More than half of employers indicate they will be investing more in personalized wellness benefits in 2022.
Companies lose an estimated $500 billion annually due to employee financial stress. Financial wellness refers to a person’s overall financial health and the absence of money-related pressure. More than 7 in 10 employees reported feeling worried about their finances while at work, and financial stress is responsible for a 34% increase in tardiness and absenteeism.
Expanded EAP Programs
Employee assistance programs (EAPs) now include helping with non-working employee needs. Companies recognize that if people are happy in their personal and professional lives, they will be more engaged and productive at work.
Expanded EAPs often include:
- Financial services counselors
- Legal assistance
- Assistance when working from home with young children
- Providing additional support for significant life events
Higher Focus on Prevention
Many companies are focusing more on prevention rather than offering wellness benefits that don’t kick in until workers are already experiencing physical, mental, or financial stress symptoms. Examples of preventative benefits include:
- Courses/counseling to stop smoking, reduce alcohol use, eat healthier
- Activity trackers to raise physical activity awareness
- Personal financial management courses
- Adaptive workplace design (e.g., standing desks)
- Regular health check-ups and immunizations
- Training managers to identify mental and emotional health challenges
Although shaped in large part by the events of the past two years, holistic approaches to employee wellbeing are here to stay. Workplace wellness now includes mental health, financial wellness, and physical fitness, with an even higher focus on preventative care.
Count on Heffernan Insurance Brokers for assistance with employee benefits programs that cultivate a positive work experience while helping your company attract and retain top talent.