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Workforce Mental Health is One of HR’s Top Priorities for 2022

January 28, 2022

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Employee mental health has taken center stage as one of the top HR priorities facing employers with nearly all companies identifying stress and burnout as a threat for their workforces, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson (WTW).

Nearly all (86%) of employers said that mental health, stress, and burnout are a top priority; however, half (49%) have not yet formally articulated a well-being strategy for their workforce and only a quarter have already articulated and adopted a well-being strategy.

“As stress and burnout levels continue to climb amid the ongoing pandemic, employers are putting the overall well-being of their employees at the top of their list,” said Regina Ihrke, senior director, Health and Benefits, WTW. “The organizations that most effectively move the needle are those that develop a comprehensive strategy that supports all aspects of their employees’ well-being. It’s also important to articulate that strategy to employees, conduct manager training and measure effectiveness.”

The survey identified the top two actions respondents plan to take in 2022 or are considering for 2023 to improve employee well-being in each of the following four categories: emotional, physical, social, and financial well-being.

Emotional Well-Being

  1. Nearly half (48%) of respondents are planning or considering implementing an organization-wide behavioral health strategy and action plan. Only a third (35%) currently have one.
  2. Four in 10 respondents (39%) are planning or considering redesigning their employee assistance program (EAP), including increasing limits on visits and expanding services. 42% redesigned their EAP in 2021.

Physical Well-Being

  1. More than a quarter of respondents (27%) are planning or considering programs that target specific conditions for high-cost cases such as maternity, diabetes, and depression. Nearly two in three (64%) currently offer these programs.
  2. One in four respondents (25%) are planning or considering promoting the use of mobile apps for physical well-being. Two in three (65%) currently do.

Financial Well-Being

  1. One-third of respondents (34%) are planning or considering setting objectives and tracking financial well-being programs at pivotal financial decision points such as new family, young children, and first house. Only two in 10 (18%) currently do.
  2. One-third of respondents (33%) are planning or considering assessing their financial well-being programs for consistency with inclusion and diversity values. About one-quarter of respondents (24%) currently do.

Social Well-Being

  1. One-third of employers (32%) are planning or considering examining onsite perks to support new work arrangements. More than a third (37%) currently do.
  2. One third (32%) are planning or considering incorporating inclusion and diversity priorities in their benefit program design. Almost half (47%) currently do.

“As we move into 2022, employers struggling with recruitment and retention will look to make their well-being programs a differentiator to attract and engage top talent. For years, employers have used financial rewards to encourage employees to take action for their own well-being; however, as those incentives have often failed to change employee behavior, employers are seeking new avenues to engage and incent employees to take charge of their own well-being,” said Ihrke.

This week’s EPTW article, “For Job Candidates It All Comes Down To…Benefits & Perks”, outlines some great options to add in to your voluntary benefits package.

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