Money & Business

Corporate Well-Being Programs Have Broadened, Survey Shows

By / May 1, 2017 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A survey by the National Business Group on Health indicates that organizations are taking a more holistic approach with their well-being programs, such as offering help on financial security.

The eighth annual survey on corporate Health and Well-Being from the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments shows several ways organizations are expanding their wellness programs.

Organizations are looking at well-being more holistically—including physical, emotional, financial, and community well-being, said LuAnn Heinen, a vice president at NBGH. The survey includes responses from 141 large and mid-sized organizations that also are NBHG members and clients of Fidelity Investments.

Financial security is now part of more organizations’ well-being programs: 84 percent of respondents offer these programs, up from 76 percent last year. Seventy-four percent plan to offer access to tools that support key financial decisions—such as mortgages, wills, and income protection—and 71 percent say they will offer help on emergency savings, debt management, and budgeting.

“Our members began to see the impact of financial insecurity on their employees,” Heinen said. This includes “the shame of debt and financial insecurity across our society,” she said, noting that financial worries cause stress. “Employers felt this is something we could address. It’s more proximate to the employer than caring about someone’s glucose levels.”

A holistic well-being approach enables employees to meet their goals, rather than telling them what they need to do. “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,” said Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of NBGH, in a statement.

The focus has shifted from the organization’s own game plan to “how to support and enable employees” with what they need, Heinen said. Also, these programs “look beyond the impact on healthcare costs” to include issues such as employee engagement and recruitment and retention, she added.

Physical well-being programs remain the most popular type, followed by emotional health programs and financial security programs. Of physical well-being programs, the most popular are smoking cessation (91 percent), physical activities/challenges (86 percent), and weight management (79 percent).

Physical well-being offerings also include “sit-to-stand” ergonomic desks and treadmill workstations, with 55 percent of companies offering them, up from 43 percent last year.

Employee incentives are an important part of these well-being programs. Seventy-four percent of respondents provide employee incentives, with the average incentive amount increasing to $742—up from $651 in 2016 and $521 in 2013. Employers are raising incentives for spouses and domestic partners as well. Heinen added that nonfinancial incentives also are on the rise, as millennials are believed to be less interested in personal rewards and more interested in group or community rewards.

“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,” said Adam Stavisky, senior vice president at Fidelity Benefits Consulting, in a statement.

The survey also asked about volunteering and giving opportunities. The percentage of well-being plans that include team-building volunteer programs increased from 67 percent to 79 percent, and the percentage of employers offering a charitable-match program increased from 65 percent to 71 percent. More employers are adding cause-based collection drives as well. Such changes recognize the importance of employees’ sense of social connectedness and community. “Part of our well-being is feeling good about where we work,” Heinan said.

Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. More »

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