Quick look: Research shows that almost half of Americans have adopted new health habits or goals following the pandemic. Employees now expect their companies to provide wellness benefits that match these new lifestyles. But with so many available plans, it’s easy for SMBs to become overwhelmed. Here are the top six wellness benefits trends of 2023 for brokers to keep on their radar as they help clients update their benefits plans and wellness policies.
It’s more important than ever for your clients to offer well-rounded employee wellness programs to their workforces. These programs, intended to improve and promote health and fitness, are increasingly on workers’ radars. CVS’ recent Health Care Insights Study found that nearly a quarter of patients report that the pandemic made them care more about their health than ever before, and almost half have adopted new health habits or goals.
In addition to helping workers reach their personal health goals, benefits of employee wellness programs include the potential to:
- Lower health care costs
- Reduce absenteeism
- Boost employee productivity
- Lower workers’ compensation and disability-related costs
- Reduce injuries
- Improve employee morale and loyalty
How do clients create a wellness program?
It can be helpful for brokers to understand the steps employers must take to properly implement an employee wellness program. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) outlines a nine-step process:
- Conduct assessments about the workforce’s health and the company’s willingness to make improvements based on this data. This stage can be completed by administering employee surveys and health risk assessments, reviewing potential wellness programs to offer, and analyzing health plan utilization rates.
- Gain support from leadership by sharing short- and long-term wellness program strategies and priorities and how the program could benefit the company’s bottom line.
- Establish a wellness committee responsible for assessing staff’s needs, evaluating current program policies, developing a program strategy, and monitoring and evaluating the plan’s success.
- Develop goals and objectives for the program which follow the SMART rule (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
- Determine a budget by examining costs and funding sources.
- Choose program components (i.e., weight loss programs, smoking cessation programs, exercise activities, vaccination clinics, etc.).
- Select incentives for participation, like prizes, monetary rewards, etc.
- Communicate the program via leadership, internal email blasts, the company intranet, collaboration tools, flyers, and by hosting special events like “Walking Wednesdays.”
- Evaluate the program’s success by measuring participation rates, program completion rates, healthcare cost reduction, the percentage of employees who stopped smoking or lost weight, etc.
6 wellness benefits brokers can offer SMBs
Helping small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) implement wellness benefits can reinforce your role as a valuable, trusted advisor. Over 60% of workers report that well-being support will be a top priority when they seek their next job. Assisting clients administer appropriate benefits can aid in their efforts to attract and retain talent.
Many employee wellness programs exist, which can be overwhelming for brokers wanting to expand their portfolios and suggest the most relevant plans to their clients. Here are six wellness benefits gaining momentum in the modern workforce to consider offering to employers.
1. Flexible fitness options
People’s exercise habits are changing, and many don’t go to the gym as they did before the pandemic.
Between January and November 2021, Americans spent over $3 billion on home fitness equipment, and 25% of former gym members don’t plan on rejoining. This shouldn’t come as a shock—with remote work on the rise, employees want to work out in the ways that make the most sense to them.
Clients can consider offering employees a stipend for at-home exercise equipment or on-demand, virtual workout or meditation classes. They may also provide a health insurance plan with access to a health savings account (HSA). HSAs may be used for weight loss surgery, smoking cessation programs and products, and more. And with a letter of medical necessity (LMN), even more can be purchased with the funds, including fitness trackers, select exercise equipment, and even yoga sessions.
2. On-the-go encouragement
The world today is mobile-first, and wellness benefits should reflect that. Brokers can encourage clients to adopt a health insurance plan that includes a wellness app that motivates workers to take daily actions that lead to healthier lives.
These apps often include rewards and prizes and help participants set goals, remember to schedule checkups, flu shots, and prescription refills, and learn nutrition, sleep, and mindfulness best practices.
3. Mindful mental health benefits
Taking care of the mind is just as important as caring for the body.
In a given year, 20% of Americans will experience a mental illness, and 25% report having to choose between obtaining mental health treatment and paying for daily necessities. And finances aren’t the only thing stopping people from getting help; many patients must wait weeks or months to receive care.
Helping SMBs access comprehensive health insurance plans that cover mental health treatment and telehealth sessions is an effective way for brokers to impact the affordability and accessibility of treatment for employees.
5. Financial wellness
A sometimes-overlooked component of wellness is financial health. Including financial wellness benefits in an employee wellness program can make a significant impact: 4 in 7 Americans struggle to understand their finances.
In addition to being used to purchase a variety of health and fitness products and services, HSAs can also act as an investment tool for employees. The funds in these accounts accrue interest, roll over each year, and can be used by retirees for qualified healthcare expenses.
Other financial wellness benefits that can be offered to clients include access to 401(k) and 529 savings plans and financial training sessions on topics like budgeting, investing, and more.
6. Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
An EAP is an affordable and effective tool clients can use to improve employee life satisfaction, increase employee engagement, and reduce absenteeism.
EAPs offer free, confidential access to professionals who can help staff navigate a range of issues, including:
- Stress, anxiety, and depression
- Relationship, family, and parenting issues
- Substance abuse
- Anger, grief, and loss
- Life transitions
- And more
EAP professionals can also provide referrals for additional treatment if needed, and the program contributes to an employee’s overall physical and mental health at a low cost for employers.
Promote wellness with the help of a PEO
Employee wellness benefits trends are constantly changing, and having a professional employer organization (PEO) partner that can keep on the pulse of the industry and provide access to relevant and reasonably priced plans is a must for brokers.
ExtensisHR, for example, offers large-group pricing and benefits administration and management for a range of employee wellness benefits, including health insurance with mental health coverage, telehealth access, a mobile wellness app, and the option to include an HSA. Additional benefits include access to EAPs and 401(k) and 529 savings plans, financial wellness training, and more.
A broker-centric PEO, ExtensisHR also prioritizes helping its partners expand their offerings, differentiate themselves, and grow their client relationships by providing leading PEO services with a personal touch.
Are your clients prepared to offer the wellness benefits that today’s talent demands? Contact the professionals at ExtensisHR to help them get up to speed.