The Evolution of Employee Wellness Programs

More employers are devising holistic wellness programs that address physical, mental and financial health; and technology could be the main driver in boosting participation.

By Javier Simon | January 05, 2017
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As health care costs continue to rise and financial insecurity becomes a leading stressor for thousands of Americans, employers are now taking a more holistic approach to developing wellness programs. According to a recent survey by provider Virgin Pulse, 76% of employers now offer wellness programs that address physical, mental, and financial health.

Although the financial piece is a relatively new component of total wellness programs, it may be long overdue. In an interview with PLANSPONSOR, Travis Freeman, CFP, President of Four Seasons Financial Education, revealed some yet-to-be-published survey findings on the impact of financial stress on health.

The company found that 66% of employees who had high levels of financial stress reported feeling depressed, compared with only 17% for those with low levels. Among the group with high levels of financial stress, 72% reported anxiety, 46% reported sleeplessness, and 25% reported memory loss. The latest employee financial-wellness survey by PricewaterhouseCopper reflects these results finding that 52% of employees reported financial insecurity. Twenty-eight percent said it was affecting their health, and another 28% said it was a distraction at work.

Clearly, there is room for improvement in addressing employees’ financial wellness. In turn, this can have a positive impact on employee well-being, employer health care costs, and a company’s return on investment (ROI). But, how can employers create these holistic wellness programs while justifying their costs and measuring their impact?

NEXT: Using technology and employee satisfaction