Wellness Programs Not Just About Physical Health

Fidelity finds many employers are adding mental and financial well-being solutions to their wellness programs.

More employers are investing in “total well-being” programs that address areas such as financial and emotional health, according to the seventh annual survey about corporate health and well-being from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health.

The survey revealed employers are adding programs that help employees manage stress, improve their resiliency and assist with their financial challenges.

This year’s survey results indicate employers recognize a “healthy” employee may be affected negatively by non-health-related factors and are including programs to address emotional and financial needs rather than focusing solely on physical health. This year, 87% of employers offer emotional or mental well-being programs, and 76% provide financial health programs. When employers were asked about offering well-being programs in the future, 67% plan to expand their efforts, and an additional 17% plan to maintain at the current level.

“Employers have long understood the importance of improving employee productivity and are now focused on the factors that impact productivity, specifically, … emotional stress and financial challenges to achiev[ing] their goals,” says Adam Stavisky, senior vice president, Fidelity Benefits Consulting.

NEXT: Wellness program components and incentives

Stress management is by far the most popular emotional well-being program offered—54% of employers currently offer this program, and an additional 12% are planning to do so in 2017. Also popular is resiliency training, which helps employees manage setbacks in the workplace or in life outside of work—27% of employers offer this program, with another 20% planning to do so next year.

To help employees manage their financial well-being, nearly three-quarters (73%) of companies surveyed offer on-site financial seminars, and 59% make a financial coach available to employees. Student loan repayment assistance—a benefit typically available only in the public sector—will now be offered by 13% of employers in 2016, and another 21% consider adding it in the future.

In 2015, 81% of employees received at least some amount of incentives, up from 73% in 2014. The percent receiving incentives has steadily increased as employers expand well-being programs to address other elements of overall well-being, as well as provide employees with more ways to earn incentives. At the same time, as employers expand into new areas, they are moving away from outcomes-based incentives as a way to encourage employees to participate. The number of employers utilizing outcomes-based incentives is expected to drop from 44% last year to 24% this year.

“We are seeing more companies step up their efforts to integrate financial and emotional well-being, social connectedness and job satisfaction with their more traditional efforts to support physical health,” says Brian Marcotte, CEO and president of National Business Group on Health.