Posted October 7, 2021
In recent years, employee well-being programs have grown in popularity. Businesses traditionally offered wellness programs to help employees with fitness, nutrition and overall health. But new insights emphasize the importance of providing benefit programs that support employees’ holistic well-being. In turn, this helps develop higher levels of employee engagement.
Gallup researchers identified five areas of employee well-being: mental, financial, social, spiritual and physical. Consider the following ideas to help you select wellness benefits for your employee well-being programs.
Employees’ mental or emotional well-being took a significant hit during the pandemic. The switch to remote work happened quickly with little time to ease employees into their new work situation. Gone were in-person team meetings and co-worker collaborations across an office table.
Instead, employees learned to connect with other team members through online meetings. Employees who like to work in quiet didn’t mind the remote work situation. But workers who are more social struggled to adapt. They felt isolated. All employees had to learn to self-manage their time, sit through endless online and phone meetings, and complete projects with minimal team support.
The uncertainties of life cause many people to feel stressed and anxious. Studies show stress can lead to mental health problems. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry says 85% of employees’ mental health conditions are undiagnosed or untreated. Employers can help relieve stress and worries by offering mental well-being programs, such as:
- Healthcare cash plan – Employers designate money for employees to use for self-care services not covered by health insurance plans, such as massages, acupuncture or chiropractic services.
- Fitness membership – Employees appreciate fitness activities to help them unwind and destress. There are many options available for online or in-person fitness programs to fit employees’ needs. Employers could cover all or part of the cost.
- Counseling or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – For years, many employers offered an EAP benefit, but few employees used it, or even understood the value. During the pandemic, employees wanted to talk to someone to help them deal with concerns or sort through problems. In talking with a supervisor, employees learned about the EAP benefit. Employers wanting to go the extra mile could offer online therapy subscription discounts that employees can use anytime.
- Flexible time off – Offering flexible time off helps employees juggle many responsibilities. This benefit makes it easier for employees to blend their personal and work needs.
- Caregiver benefits – Many employees juggle work with caregiver responsibilities for parents and children. About 20% of workers serve as unpaid caregivers for another adult, and nearly two-thirds of them also work. Many also take care of younger children. Support employees by providing caregiver benefits. This can include extra time off, flexible schedules to care for family needs, or backup care options for employees when they don’t have access to caregiving services.
During the pandemic, employees accrued unexpected bills. Some still are struggling to make payments, while also handling student loan debts. That’s one big reason why workers want financial well-being benefits. In addition to student loan repayment assistance, preferred benefit options include retirement savings match programs and life insurance coverage. With these benefits, employees can better deal with financial stress, enabling them to focus on improving other areas of their lives.
Over the past year, most employees stayed close to home. They miss getting together with co-workers or spending time with their family and friends.
Workers want social benefits that will help them get involved and spend time with others. Popular options include ticket discounts for activities, paid time off to volunteer at community organizations, or a reward for a weekend getaway trip to the beach or other outdoor adventure.
Generally, spiritual well-being revolves around having a purpose or meaning in life. Lots of people grow up going to church. Others find their higher power elsewhere. It’s an individual experience. However, once set, spiritual well-being provides direction for a person’s decisions and actions. With this confidence, people are more content, making it easier to take care of customer needs and encourage other workers.
Employers should recognize the need for employees’ spiritual well-being. They can do this by providing time and opportunities for workers to participate in uplifting programs and meditation exercises to help center their lives.
These well-being programs help employees improve and support their physical health and wellness. However, employers should continually update these programs to ensure employees can personalize benefits to fit their needs.
Employees expect employers to provide medical benefits. They also value dental and vision insurance, which are benefits employees tend to use most. But often, dental and vision insurance plans are considered voluntary coverage. Employees today believe dental and vision insurance is essential to their health. And they want it included in their employer-sponsored health benefits packages.
Physical well-being also focuses on helping employees pursue healthier lifestyles. Gallup research shows that when employees feel good about their physical health, they tend to be healthier, happier and more satisfied. Employers reap the benefits of higher employee productivity and positive customer relationships. This supports a healthy bottom line and business growth.