There was a noticeable year over year increase in 2020 in employers that consider investing in health and wellness an important part of their workforce strategy. Additionally, 80% feel virtual care will significantly impact how healthcare is delivered in the future. How your organization provides health and wellness benefits is a big consideration if you want to remain competitive in the recruitment of top talent in your industry.
While the pandemic influenced costs and expectations, the workforce had already expressed the desire for more in the areas of physical and mental health, well-being, and telemedicine from their employers.
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Here are the ways you can rethink your employee health and wellness benefits for 2021.
Keep Active and Connected
The continued evolution of working from home likely has a negative impact on the social element of your workplace. You might also have a new layout at your workplace that takes into consideration the requirements for social distancing. Both scenarios have changed the way people interact at work, which can break down work relationships that keep a team productive and motivated. An investment in “get active” meetings provide a place for co-workers to maintain physical activity together despite working apart.
Physical activity can include basics such as running or walking for social distanced workplaces or more of a class setting with virtual yoga for remote workforces. The idea is to provide a regularly scheduled time for physical activity shared by those interested in participation for about 30- minutes a day. It not only promotes teamwork, but also improves physical and mental wellness.
Cash and Activity Incentivized HSA Contributions
The 2019 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey shows that in 2019 39% of employers contributed to their employee HSA. Encouraging healthy lifestyle choices by creating a cash incentive for physical activity can work very well when tied into employee health savings account (HSA) contributions.
Employees can track their physical activity by steps, minutes of exercise or even healthy sleep, and the company contributes money for each confirmed activity. If you were to introduce a $1 incentive for each level of activity completed, it could add up to $365 towards their HSA. You can include a fitness tracker that can be downloaded by people who wish to participate so it takes little effort.
Mental Health Initiatives
This was already a hot topic before the pandemic. The added strains of living under lockdown or working in isolation have negatively impacted mental health. As a result, making efforts to include ways to support employee mental health as part of your wellness program can go a long way. Stress can lead to serious mental health issues which in turn impacts overall physical health. Possible programs you can introduce might include:
- Mental health appointments via telehealth
- Meditation or yoga classes
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
- Onsite counseling sessions
All of these offerings provide support for those struggling with their day to day lives.
The Importance of Wellness
A switch to family-friendly and wellness benefits is changing the benefits landscape. For example, according to one SHRM survey, benefits such as quiet rooms (21%), fitness activities (approx. 30%) and standing desks (60%) have become increasingly popular.
From a family-friendly standpoint, a quarter of companies allow parents to bring their children to work, and new mother benefits have also increased including lactation rooms (51%) lactation support services (13%) and on-ramping programs for parents returning to work (12%).
Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSA)
Another benefit trend, introducing lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs) helps employees make smarter lifestyle choices. Post-tax funds are allotted for employees to spend on lifestyle habits that suit their needs. You can choose the costs you determine to be eligible such as:
- Exercise programs
- Addiction treatments
- Equipment purchases for a home gym
- Nutrition counseling and more
The funds offer a more customized approach to wellness that allows employees to choose their own healthy habits. This translates into a big plus when it comes to remaining competitive in the recruitment field.
More Care Via Telehealth/Virtual Healthcare
SHRM also shows a massive jump in the number of companies offering Telehealth services from 0% in 2015 to 72% in 2019. Telehealth provides diagnosis, consultation, and prescriptions to patients either by phone or through virtual video conferencing. Employees access healthcare from anywhere so they don’t have to leave work or home in the case where they might be too ill or be caring for a loved one. As mentioned above it also allows people to receive mental health care in complete privacy and access assistance when they experience a crisis situation.
As you can see there is a distinct shift from general health benefits in 2021 to a focus on adapting to lifestyle needs, wellness as a more proactive approach to healthcare and conveniences such as telehealth.
About The Author
Ingrid is the Content Marketing Manager at Paypro, managing both inbound and outbound marketing initiatives for the company. She has 15+ years’ of extensive marketing communications experience, leveraging brand awareness and strategic partnerships to increase sales revenue for a diverse group of B2B brands.