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5 Wellness Trends for Employers to Watch in 2020

Elizabeth Downs
April 30, 2020

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As 2020 gets off to a start with new health plans in place, more employers than ever are realizing the benefit of employee wellness. Creating a healthy culture within the workplace will continue to be a priority for companies in 2020 for many different reasons.

Employee wellness has demonstrated growing importance over the years, and it will certainly not lose any steam this year. In fact, 76% of employees think their workplace has a responsibility for their health and well-being, according to a MetLife survey. According to Gallup, 87% of employees expect their company to help them balance their work and personal lives. These statistics underscore the interconnectivity between well-being and engagement, while showing the importance of employer commitment to employee well-being.

With these expectations in mind, here are five popular employee wellness trends to look out for in 2020:

Holistic Plan Designs

Employers are investing in wellness through more holistic plan designs. One service in particular is the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  EAPs are being implemented to help employees address multiple stressors that both work and life create and may have some effect on the employee’s performance.  Employees can access completely confidential counseling, information and resources in areas that may include, but are certainly not limited to, relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety, financial problems, legal challenges and stress.  These plans give free access to short term counseling, referrals to mental health professionals and educational resources. Companies using this type of plan are focusing on the direct correlation between positive mental health and positive physical health. 

Improved employee morale, productivity, presenteeism and retention are all benefits that can emerge from this type of programming.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics is designing the workspace to fit the employee’s capabilities and limitations and to help the individual complete tasks in the most efficient way.

Wellness and ergonomics have typically been operated independently of one another in the workplace.  Employee wellness is generally operated from an HR perspective, while ergonomics is most often part of the safety culture. However, partnering these two resources into one program can maximize the benefits produced by both. 

For example, the risk of extended sitting not only creates a higher propensity for obesity and poor heart health, but it can also increase the risk for MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders).  Both outcomes are associated with absenteeism, decreased productivity, poor employee morale and higher medical claim costs to name a few.

Utilizing both programs together can be an efficient way for employers to be proactive in creating positive health outcomes and reducing risk for injury simultaneously with one program.

Tailored Health Portals

Many employees use the internet for researching and coordinating their health care. Oftentimes, this is done through point solutions (e.g., websites or applications that deal with a specific focus, like managing diabetes), which require employees to reenter their personal information into multiple sites.

From such a portal, employees could locate a doctor, Employers are now moving away from point solutions, opting instead for tailored platforms. These platforms house employee data and offer access to a variety of health solutions. research a condition or review their health plan coverages all in the same place. Depending on the platform, employers can work with vendors to include solutions based on their employees’ unique needs.

Social Enrichment Programs

A common thread in workplace surveys for years has been the employee’s desire for meaningful work.  People want what they do to matter. This isn’t always easy, depending on the line of work, so employers are offering ways to give back. Some companies partner with nonprofit organizations to help fundraise, and others provide an allotment of paid “volunteer days” for employees to use throughout the year. Regardless of the approach, the commitment to social enrichment is what matters to employees.

Financial Wellness Resources

Many organizations employ a diverse population of employees.  Different demographics do set the tone for different needs.  However, one thing that most everyone has in common is financial stress.  Whether it be preparing for retirement and the unknown or paying back college debt or a new house, financial worries are in the top stressors for individuals.  As employers look to reduce unnecessary stress for their employees, some are choosing to offer financial wellness programs. These programs vary in complexity but can include personal financial planning meetings, tuition reimbursement, seminars and payday loan assistance. The idea is to offer enough services for anyone in your workforce to take advantage of, no matter their financial situation.

Employee well-being, whether it is physical, mental or social, is just as important to the individual as it is to prosperity of the organization they serve.  We understand the importance of a healthy workforce and we are here to help.  If you would like to learn more about improving an existing program or simply creating a healthy culture in your organization, feel free to contact me to get started.

This article was published in the Spring 2020 issue of the General Insurance Services Risk & Business Magazine. Access the full publication here

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