More and more employers are making it financially worthwhile for their workers to participate in well-being programs, according to the 10th Annual Health and Well-Being Survey from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health.
The survey of 164 “jumbo,” large and mid-sized organizations found that, on average, more than a third (40 percent) of the budgets for their well-being programs are applied to financial incentives that encourage employees and their spouses or domestic partners to participate. The average per-employee incentive is now $762—nearly three times the average employee incentive of $260 in 2009, though down slightly from $784 in 2018.
Moreover, the percentage of employers offering incentives to spouses and domestic partners increased to 58 percent in 2019, up from 54 percent in 2018, while the average incentive for spouses and domestic partners increased to $601, up from $596 in 2018.
Over the next three to five years, a third of the respondents say they plan to continue to increase the amount of financial incentives to further boost participation in well-being. More than half (57 percent) of the respondents providing financial incentives do so in the form of reducing workers’ health care plan premiums, while a third (34 percent) do so by funding an employee’s health care account, such as a health savings account.
Overall, the respondents say they expect to spend an average of $3.6 million in 2019 on their well-being programs. In addition to providing programs focused on physical health, 92 percent of the respondents also provide programs that focus on emotional and mental health, and 88 percent provide programs that focus on financial health (88 percent). Other programs offered include those that focus on community involvement (69 percent), social connectedness (54 percent) and job satisfaction (43 percent).
“More employers view their investments in health and well-being as integral to deploying the most engaged, productive and competitive workforce possible,” says Brian Marcotte, President and CEO, National Business Group on Health.
“Their focus is holistic, with physical health being a component rather than the only priority,” Marcotte says. “Employers recognize that their employees have different needs and want to engage in different ways. Financial and emotional stress, for example, are major detractors from work performance and employers are doubling down on these areas.”
For employers that have operations in more than one country, more than half (56 percent) offer well-being programs to their global employees, an increase from 44 percent in 2018, and another 14 percent are considering extending their well-being program to workers in additional geographies next year. Half of the multinationals that offer well-being programs in other countries let the local markets dictate the nature of the well-being program in each particular geography, while 34 percent have a global strategy in place.
Reasons to offer a well-being program also varies by geography. Within the U.S., the two top objectives are to manage health care costs (82 percent) and improve employee productivity/reduce absenteeism (59 percent), while the top objectives globally are to improve employee engagement/performance (82 percent) and align employees with the corporate culture (72 percent).
“As more employers recognize the relationship between employee well-being and productivity, well-being programs have taken on an increasingly meaningful role in employers’ business strategies,” says Robert Kennedy, senior vice president, Fidelity Workplace Consulting. “However, as the benefits landscape continues to evolve, employers need to ensure they are designing their programs to meet the changing needs of their workforce.”
“Implementing programs that take a total well-being approach, designing programs for a global workforce and aligning well-being programs with the company’s health care strategy are just a few of the steps employers can take to ensure their well-being program continues to deliver maximum benefit to their organization,” Kennedy says.
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