Benefits that help stressed employees

The pandemic, along with many difficult social and global issues, has squeezed individuals from all sides – physically, financially, emotionally and even socially. According to American Psychological Association67% of Americans report increased stress during the pandemic, which has created a huge need to proactively address mental and emotional health issues, especially in the workplace.

Employers are increasingly concerned about the mental wellbeing of their staff and why it is important to offer solutions that focus on this very complex area of ​​employee wellbeing. Below are three important ways for employers to protect their workforce during these challenging times.

1. Earlier detection means earlier intervention.
Before the pandemic, nearly one in five adults suffered from a mental illness — equivalent to 50 million Americans – and these are only the reported cases. Often people can be suffering from a mental or emotional challenge without even realizing it, but early detection of challenges can save lives and help prevent rising medical costs down the road. That’s why earlier this year, Aflac has partnered with NeuroFlow to offer a program for its group long-term disability policies with 1,000 or more people covered. The program provides access to NeuroFlow’s mental health and wellness app which screens and monitors existing and undetected behavioral health issues. This solution is designed to help bridge the gap that may exist in an employer’s behavioral health program by proactively helping individuals self-identify potential issues such as depression, anxiety, sleep, etc. Employee assistance programs are another essential resource that can provide access to behavioral health specialists to help with workplace challenges as well as personal situations requiring guidance and resources.

2. Paid vacation and disability insurance go hand in hand.
A worker’s mental health can affect their productivity and may be the reason they need to be absent. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only revealed how important it is for employees to take time off to care for themselves and their loved ones, but it has also shown the need for income protection. Having this type of safety net is crucial for mental health and overall well-being. Paid time off and disability insurance can work together to give workers the support they need to take time to care for themselves and others. It’s important for employers to regularly review their disability and paid vacation programs to create competitive packages that attract and retain talent within budget. Ultimately, these programs allow workers to take the time they need without fear of losing income to pay their bills.

Read more: Disability insurance can pave the way to health equity

3. Financial protection helps reduce stress and burnout.
Americans are feeling the pressure of living paycheck to paycheck and being ill-prepared for an unexpected medical event. This represents a unique and important opportunity for employers and their providers to provide education and consultation on the actual costs that the individual or family can expect to incur. When employers offer products like supplemental insurance, they not only ease a burden, but they also allow employees to take control of unexpected health events in their lives.

According to Kaiser Family Foundationthe average deductible for individual employer-provided coverage was $1,669 in 2021. Meanwhile, nearly half (46%) of all employees indicate that they would not be able to shell out more than $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for an unexpected illness or injury. Family coverage deductibles are even higher, and the deductibles won’t take into account some of the unexpected out-of-network or out-of-pocket costs like missed paychecks. Therefore it is not surprising that half of all American workers report having great anxiety about health care costs beyond what their insurance covers.

Holistic strategies for health and wellness benefits
Mental health and well-being continue to have a significant effect on today’s workforce. By identifying potential mental health issues earlier and providing self-help resources to address them, workers can be more productive on the job. Working closely with employers and covered members to access and use the resources they have is essential to maintaining a healthy workforce.

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