4 ways leaders need to adapt wellness offerings in 2021 – and beyond

Leadership requires more than an inspiring vision and a compelling call to action – it must also demonstrate support for those in the lead. For business leaders, this means providing practical and tangible ways to meet the needs of individuals so that they can work, take care of their health and feel fulfilled. Employee benefits are an essential part of this mix. And, a year after the start of the pandemic, it is clear that the changing needs and expectations of employees will require creating a new reality in the workplace, especially when it comes to our mental health needs. and physical.

The pandemic has uncovered loopholes that even the names of family-owned businesses with award-winning benefit offerings may have missed. From changes in employee needs around remote working, from the flexibility of childcare services and mental health support to the growing interest in programs that facilitate a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace, the benchmark benefits package is evolving at a rapid pace. According to Dr Tatiana Rowson of Henley Business School, an employee-centered approach to wellness and benefits with individualized solutions is a great way to value diversity in organizations. However, she cautions that leaders must also be transparent about the options available to employees to ensure that everyone has access to benefits and a climate of trust maintained.

Increasingly, employers are evaluating their benefit mix and how it aligns with the changing needs and expectations of the workforce. For businesses of all sizes – from small startups to the Fortune 100 – cultivating a positive corporate culture and engaging top talent should start by providing tailored wellness benefits to their employees to meet unique workforce needs. lifestyle and health of individuals.

According to MOBE CEO Chris Cronin, the shift in leadership thinking is a long time coming – but, like so many aspects of health and wellness, it has been laid bare and accelerated by the pandemic. “After a tumultuous year and deserved attention to mental, physical and behavioral health, employees look to their leaders to walk and help them take care of themselves and their health in a holistic way,” Cronin said. “It is not enough to provide access to a single application or program. To improve their health, employees need personalized support that addresses all aspects of their health – and keeps them engaged and moving forward. With the right offers, employers can have a significant impact on the health and productivity of the workforce – and now is the time to act. This approach goes hand in hand with new thinking about sustainable work and careers that not only engages employees, but also ensures they are healthier and fitter for longer, says Rowson.

Cronin advises that as employee needs evolve, employers should take a holistic approach to their benefit offerings to ensure they have four key characteristics.

  1. Engage employees with a “whole person” approach. In this new standard, high-value benefit programs must support all aspects of an individual’s health, including medications, nutrition, fitness, diet, and other factors that impact on well-being such as sleep and mental health. The impact of stress and anxiety is both human and economic. According to the American Institute of Stress, more than half of the 550 million working days lost each year in the United States due to absenteeism are related to stress – unplanned absenteeism is estimated to cost American companies $ 602 per worker and per year. The price tag for large employers could approach $ 3.5 million per year.
  2. Offer employees personalized support. “Everyone is unique in their health and well-being journey. Solutions that engage employees with personalized and one-on-one support are most successful in having a lasting impact on employee health outcomes, ”noted Cronin. A recent MOBE survey of Americans’ perceptions of their health revealed an increased need for counseling to help identify and address these areas; In addition, exercising (51%), eating healthier (40%) and sleeping more (38%) were the changes that consumers most wanted to make in their health, but found the most. difficult to do. Perhaps most concerning: 53% of consumers didn’t think the extra steps to improve their health (such as changing their diet, exercise and sleep habits) were easy to understand. after talking with their doctor. When one-on-one support is available at an employee’s fingertips when they need it, they can overcome these barriers and progress toward those goals – when and how to take prescribed medications, exercise programs, diets. and ways to improve mental health. – especially important during stressful times like these.
  3. Leverage data science and AI to make sure the benefits are accessible to everyone. Recent research found that 81% of employees who can easily access their benefits said they felt loyal to their employer, and 79% said they were proud to work for their organization. Accessibility, however, means more than just downloading an app – it’s about delivering offers that proactively engage those employees who need wellness support the most. “In an age when the capabilities of technology are seemingly limitless, we often forget the essential ingredient for better results: human connection,” added Chris. “Identifying people who may benefit from this additional health support and connecting them with relevant wellness offerings and interventions is essential for treating and even preventing debilitating health problems in the general population. . Deploying sophisticated data science and powerful data analysis tools to identify and engage these people is critical for business and public health.
  4. Find – and hire – those who need it most. The Chronic Care Action Index 2020 found that three in five people who manage complex and chronic health issues report that these issues have an impact on their working lives. With more than 83 million Americans managing two or more chronic conditions, this is a significant problem for employers. Yet current benefit programs may be neglecting a small “unengaged population” within this group. “Our data shows that this population refuses to participate in traditional wellness programs, generates 30% of employer healthcare costs and that despite frequent access to the healthcare system, it is not improving,” Chris said. Benefits programs that identify and reach these people can help ensure that people who strive to improve their health receive the support they need to do so and become more productive employees.

Fundamentally, benefit programs are all about giving employees the tools and services they need to be happy, healthy, and productive – and often these plans are a critical part of successful businesses’ ability to retain employees. great talents. As employers continue to adapt and initiate new benefit options to support changing work environments, it’s more important than ever to ensure employees are happy inside and out. outside the office. Offers that provide individualized and comprehensive advice and support – especially for those who sometimes fall under the radar – will be the new benchmark.

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