More Employers Prioritizing Health and Work-Life Balance

The Mercer/HERO Scorecard shows a growing consensus around the business case for well-being initiatives and an increase in social media strategies to reach employees.

More employers are benchmarking well-being programs, according to a new report from Mercer and the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO).

According to Mercer, the HERO Scorecard highlights a growing consensus on the business case for well-being initiatives. The progress report includes analysis from health professionals on best practice areas including strategic planning, organizational and leadership support, program integration, program comprehensiveness, participation and social strategies to support well-being, and use of data to measure program performance.

The number of HERO Scorecard completers has increased by 30% since the 2018 Progress Report, likely due to the growing need for and interest in well-being programs exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, Mercer says. More than 1,300 organizations have completed the current version of the HERO Scorecard, and nearly 200 companies have taken it more than once.

Among organizations that have completed the HERO Scorecard more than once, participants reported a 62% increase in leaders prioritizing health and work-life balance. Sixty-seven percent of companies that regularly share health and well-being program performance data with senior leadership report that organizational support strategies are effective. Additionally, the number of Scorecard completers that said their company mission or vision statement supports a healthy workplace culture jumped from 35% in 2016 to 49% last year, and 30% said their senior leaders view health and well-being as connected to broader business results “to a great extent.”

The move to remote work during the pandemic has underscored the need for mobile apps and social media strategies, so workers can be reached wherever they are. The HERO Scorecard reported 90% of organizations that are employing four or more social strategies perceived their health and well-being program to be effective, compared with just 18% of organizations with no social strategies.

Along with regular benchmarking, Mercer and HERO identify key areas that could increase positive outcomes. Those include organizational support, program integration, comprehensive programs and incentives. Employers can target communications to diverse groups, integrate well-being programs with other employee benefits, provide tools to track health, offer financial incentives for specific activities and more.

“Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, all of these components of health and well-being have come under additional strain and challenge,” Steven Noeldner, a senior consultant in Mercer’s Total Health Management Practice, tells PLANSPONSOR. “Employers seeking to address their employees’ and families’ needs in these areas can look to the HERO Scorecard for best practices to provide support—both at the workplace and in the community. The HERO Scorecard Progress Report summarizes what we have learned from employers’ responses to the HERO Scorecard over the last several years. It also includes case studies from employers that have implemented best practices. The Progress Report, therefore, provides practical interpretations of what the Scorecard data means and how it can be applied by employers to their own situations.”

Mary Imboden, director of research for HERO, says this Progress Report will be the last based on data from version four of the HERO Scorecard. HERO Scorecard V5, which is scheduled for release early this year, will be updated with questions about best practices in areas that have additional relevance because of the coronavirus pandemic, including addressing diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace; emotional and psychological safety in the workplace; and the influences of social determinants of health on health and well-being, according to Noeldner.