Well-Being Increasingly Important to Employers

Some employers are starting to see wellness programs as a business imperative.

Employers are implementing well-being programs to achieve business objectives and address human resources (HR) priorities, according to a survey by Virgin Pulse.

More than half of the HR professionals surveyed say they are looking to improve employee engagement (60%), productivity (53%), and organizational culture (52.8%) through well-being, which is no longer being seen as strictly an HR initiative, but rather a business imperative.

Among U.S.-based organizations that offer health care benefits, nearly three-quarters also offer some type of well-being program. Programs that improve physical activity, manage employee stress, and assess employee engagement both bolster employee health and support stated human resource initiative priorities, such as improving productivity and culture or boosting talent recruiting and retention.

Organizations measure the same outcomes they seek to drive. For example, 60% of organizations want to increase employee engagement with their mental-health programs (which can include meditation or skill-building programs, among others). More than 42% of organizations overall measure increased engagement as they seek to better employees’ mental health. Similar practices are in place for physical and emotional health—organizations measure the outcomes they want to drive with their well-being programs.

Physical health may be the first thing people think of regarding well-being. In the past, traditional wellness programs may have included gym memberships, biometric screenings, or health assessments but little else. But being well means having more than just a healthy body. The traditional gym membership and assessment models are being supplemented by financial programs, time management programs, and many others, the research finds.

As well-being programs evolve and become a core part of business strategy for engaging, retaining, and recruiting top talent, budgets for these initiatives are growing. More than one-third (39.1%) of large companies and more than one-quarter (28.1%) of small companies report well-being budget increases over last year.

A report of findings from the Virgin Pulse survey can be requested here.