The Evolution of Benefit Programs – Health and Well-Being Efforts Rise
September 17, 2021
By Jason Rowe, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE
As businesses manage the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have increased their focus on creating benefit programs that address the evolving needs of their diverse workforces, especially mental/emotional health, work/life balance, and financial health. Moreover, 80% of employers report that diversity, equity, and inclusion influence their corporate well-being strategies. This is according to Fidelity Investments® and Business Group on Health’s Employer-Sponsored Health & Well-Being Survey.
“As we gradually return to a pre-pandemic work environment, employers will continue to try new and different things, and we expect they will leverage their learnings and feedback from employees to continue to find ways to address multiple dimensions of their employees’ well-being,” said Shams Talib, head of Fidelity Workplace Consulting
69% of companies say integrating employee well-being into the benefit package will be the top strategic benefit objective over the next two years, according to Willis Towers Watson’s recently published Benefits Trends Survey. Most employers (86%) cite employee emotional well-being as their top priority over the next two years, followed by physical well-being (68%), and financial well-being (67%).
Enhancements that employers have already made to boost their focus on well-being programs that address mental/emotional health, work/life balance, and financial health, reported in Fidelity’s survey include the following:
- For 2021, 92% expanded the support for mental health and emotional well-being, which includes programs focused on stress management, sleep improvement, and resiliency, as well as pediatric-focused mental health programs.
- Nearly three-quarters (74%) of employers increased programs to support work/life balance, with 69% of employers adding new leave options or expanding their leave benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, many employers are examining their parental leave, including time off for adopting a child.
- Companies also increased programs designed for caregivers, including 64% that enhanced childcare support, 55% that provided paid leave to care for a child or other family member, and 48% that provided back-up childcare support.
- Companies continue to focus on providing additional support for employees’ financial well-being. For instance, 83% of employers will provide programs to support emergency savings, debt management, and budgeting, while another 77% will offer resources to support key financial decisions like mortgages, wills, and income protection.
Looking ahead, research from Fidelity shows that 74% of employers plan to expand well-being programs and resources over the next 3-5 years, while 24% will continue at the same level as today. As companies gradually progress to a post-pandemic business environment, employers expect to continue to expand mental/emotional health and work/life balance programs. In addition, companies expect to increase focus on programs to support community involvement, such as charitable giving and volunteering programs, and resume on-site support for well-being activities as a percentage of the workforce returns to traditional work environments.