Employee Experience

How Well is Your Wellness Program?

Companies have placed importance on the well-being of their workforce for years but the current global environment and an employee focus on self-care is forcing companies to up their wellness offerings and employee benefits initiatives.

The Movement to Wellness Benefits

In 2008, the Employer Health Benefit Survey began asking large employers (those with 200-plus workers) about their workplace wellness programs, and it has been tracking them ever since. That year, about 70% of those surveyed were offering their employees some level of wellness benefits.

Fast forward to 2022. Last fall, we surveyed subscribers of HRO Today magazine and newsletters, and found that 80% of their organizations provided an employee wellness program with those programs expected to continue to grow. More than half (55%) of study participants anticipated their program benefits will increase further in the next 12 months throughout 2023.

Those numbers track with a recent MetLife study in which 86% of employers surveyed said they felt responsibility for employee health and well-being. And nearly that same percentage (84%) are making overall employee health a top company priority.

A New Era of Employee Care

The numbers tell the story. Employee wellness programs today are a large part of employee benefits programs and will only become larger in the coming years. Grand View Research estimates the $53 billion global corporate wellness market in 2022 will continue to expand approximately 47 ½ % through this decade.

“The COVID-19 pandemic impacted negatively on the economy, causing financial hardship for many individuals, which had a negative effect on their mental health,” noted Grand View researchers. “Worry, stress, and despair have risen as a result of the pandemic. Employers will need to spend resources in the future to develop wellness-supportive environments – both physical and mental – in all of their workspaces and locations.”

What that Means in Wellness Benefits

At a high level, wellness programs are intended to help employees avoid illness while improving and maintaining their overall mental and physical health. Traditionally, wellness benefits have included components like smoking cessation, weight loss, stress management, company gym/workout rooms, recreational programs such as company-sponsored sports teams, medical screenings, and immunization/flu shots.

But in recent years, global mobility leaders are recognizing that today’s definition of wellness benefits is by necessity becoming much broader. For example, some companies are granting employees wellness stipends which they can use toward mental health services. Others are giving time off on Fridays year-round as part of their routine benefits packages, something that once was a summertime perk for lucky employees. Allowing employees to take Fridays off without dipping into their PTO time helps with work-life balance and has the potential to improve retention in the workplace.

Give Your Wellness Program a Check Up

Many HR managers are still grappling with the most effective ways to incorporate wellness benefits into their overall mobility benefits packages. How healthy is your program, and are there new or better ways to help improve your employees’ whole health? Here’s a wellness checklist to help identify areas of opportunity.

How are you addressing stress relief?

It used to be a running joke that when the doctor couldn’t determine a diagnosis, the pat answer was “it is just stress.” The reality is, though, that stress is no joke – something employers increasingly are recognizing through creative stress relief programs. Consider incorporating non-traditional stress-management benefits into your wellness program such as meditation and yoga sessions or even art therapy classes. Some companies designate a wellness hour each week or even each month. This may be collective as a team or individual opportunity.

Have you evaluated your benefit delivery models?

Globally, there is an increase of teams returning to the office for some semblance of hybrid work. HR leaders should not discount the need for wellness benefits that are accessible offsite. If your program does not already offer digitally accessible employee health services, consider adding some options to your menu. Many health coaches and therapists provide virtual sessions out of the necessity born by the movement to remote work. And health education providers are rapidly adopting digital delivery to reach the offsite market with things like diabetes prevention programs, for example.

Are you incentivizing employees?

According to KFF, the Kaiser Family Foundation, known for its work on national health issues, most large employers ask employees to share personal health information on health risk assessments (HRA) questionnaires or through biometric screenings, or both. And increasingly, of those who offer HRA options, many are using financial incentives to encourage healthier lifestyles. Incentives might reward an employee for meeting a health or fitness goal, incentivize participation in a particular wellness program, or give them gift cards, reimbursements, and even extra time off.

“Implementing a completely voluntary wellness program where employees can choose to participate if they’d like typically doesn’t muster up any legal issues,” says wellness and benefits provider IncentFit. Legal issues may arise when the program is designed to reward only the employees who choose to participate. Essentially, the bigger reward employees get for participation, the greater the possibility for legal issues to arise. As with any new employee benefits program, it is a good idea to consult your legal team for advice.

Does it encourage DEI&B?

One of the fundamentals of a strong global DEI&B program is embracing the diversity of employee needs when it comes to supporting their well-being. Work-life flexibility, integration and benefits are key fundamentals of a successful global DEI&B program, notes the Centre for Global Inclusion. In its standards for organizations across the world, the Centre highlights, “Benefits and services that are specific to the diverse needs of employees are provided based on ongoing assessments of employee needs.”

How well do your current benefits line up with the scope of your employees’ needs?  Ask them, through periodic surveys and focus groups. You might even consider forming a benefits “think tank” comprising team members from a cross-section of your organization, to provide ongoing input into the wellness benefits program.

Let CapRelo Help

Wellness benefits are no longer simply a nice-to-have component of overall relocation benefits programs. Putting an emphasis on your employees’ whole health leads to a more successful move or assignment, happier work environment and, ultimately, a more successful company. With over 25 years in relocation management, CapRelo’s experienced team can help you develop a well-rounded wellness program that meets your employees’ diverse needs.  For more information, reach out to one of our relocation professionals.