As the need for enhanced wellbeing programs grows, a WorldatWork study finds employers adopting aggressive plan designs by adding ranges of modern features—from telemedicine and stress reduction, to weight management and health advocacy.
According to the study, 73% of companies have added telemedicine services, up from 49% in the past. Access to a 24-hour nurse line has increased 10%, up to 79% of companies offering the feature. Stress reduction programs have risen to 56%, weight management programs to 58% and health advocacy programs, which helps employees navigate medical and administrative issues, climbed to 60%.
“Companies are trying to keep up the pace and offer health plans suited for the hyper-connected, lightning-quick pace of today’s global workforce,” says Robert Swatland, senior principal at Korn Ferry, who supported the study. “Employees are accustomed to having 24/7 access to information. Benefits that offer anytime, anywhere access to meet a wide range of health and wellness issues are becoming increasingly popular.”
This isn’t the first news of plan sponsors attempting to modernize health benefits. Reports date back to 2016, when Willis Towers Watson noticed the progressive trend propelled by the swell of Millennials in the workforce.
According to the WorldatWork study, employers are also enhancing their benefits to attract the evolving workforce. Other programs seeing a surge include behavioral health plans and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) with increases of 91% and 96%, respectively. Outcomes-based wellness programs, which specializes in accomplishing measurable goals (like achieving specific body mass indexes) grew to 43%. Wellness gamification, including contests, lotteries, points, quizzes, etc., to encourage healthy behavior, rose to 45%; and wellness information—from seminars, webinars or literature centered on wellbeing—surged to 87%.
“With a tight labor market and fierce competition for qualified talent, organizations are becoming more creative in offering unique health and wellness benefits to help them enhance talent attraction and retention efforts,” says Alison Avalos, director of Research and Certification for WorldatWork.
Additionally, the study found that health coaching increased to 72%; health fairs to 64%; nutrition counseling to 66%; biometric/wellness screenings to 77%; and lactation support services to 71%.
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