More Companies Including Financial Wellness in Well-Being Programs

They are also increasing incentives and expanding the use of ergonomic workstations as part of their physical well-being programs.

A growing percentage of companies are expanding their well-being programs to include employee financial security, according to the eighth annual survey on corporate health and well-being from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health.

The survey reveals 84% of companies now have financial security programs, such as access to debt management tools or student loan counseling, in their well-being strategies, an increase from 76% last year. Financial security programs are the third most-popular offering, following physical well-being programs (95%) and emotional health programs (87%).

The most popular financial security programs are seminars and “lunch-n-learn” programs, with 82% of employers expected to offer these in 2017. Nearly three-fourths (74%) will offer access to tools to support key financial decisions including mortgages, wills and income protection. Another 71% expect to offer tools and resources to support emergency savings, debt management and budgeting. One-quarter of employers plan to offer student loan counseling or repayment assistance.

“As these programs evolve, employers are embracing a broader definition of well-being to increase participation and engagement among their workforce,” says Adam Stavisky, senior vice president, Fidelity Benefits Consulting. “Today’s programs take more of a ‘health meets wealth’ approach and reflect a blend of financial, physical, and social/emotional programs to provide maximum support for members.”

“The well-being market is still evolving—in general, employers are looking to their advisers to help them design and measure programs that are implemented by their well-being providers and/or recordkeepers,” Robert Kennedy, senior vice president, Fidelity Benefits Consulting, tells PLANSPONSOR.

NEXT: Expansion of physical well-being programs

The most popular physical well-being programs continue to be smoking cessation (91%), physical activities/challenges (86%) and weight management (79%).

This year’s survey indicates that employee incentives continue to be a critical part of corporate well-being programs. Nearly three-quarters of employers (74%) include employee incentives, with the average employee incentive amount increasing to $742, up from $651 in 2016 and $521 in 2013. Employers are also increasing incentives for spouses and domestic partners, with the average annual spouse/domestic partner incentive at $694, a 47% increase over the 2016 average of $471.

Currently, 55% of companies offer a “sit-to-stand” ergonomic desk or treadmill workstation, an increase from 43% last year. Employers also recognize the impact of fitness wearables on employee health—30% will offer subsidies or discounts in 2017. Companies are also focusing on healthy on-site food options for their workforce—48% have policies regarding healthy food options in their cafeteria, vending machines and catering. In addition, 28% of organizations offer discounts or price differentials on healthy food options in the cafeteria.

The percentage of employers encouraging community involvement and charitable activities is increasing. The percentage of well-being plans that include team-building volunteer programs increased from 67% to 79%, while the percentage of employers offering a charitable match giving program increased from 65% to 71%. Employers are also adding cause-based collection drives, with the percentage of companies offering these programs increasing to 88% from 77% last year.

The survey includes responses from 141 large and mid-sized organizations and was fielded online during November and December 2016 among National Business Group on Health members and clients of Fidelity Investments.