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Employee well-being and benefits: what you need to know

Published by: LifeWorks,

The recent focus on employee well-being is more than just a trend. As the role of human resources evolves, companies are discovering the benefits of improving the employee experience and focusing on helping their staff adopt healthier lifestyles.

My company, LifeWorks, conducted a survey to better understand how companies focus on employee well-being and what wellness benefits are popular. Our research found that 29 percent of HR professionals say employees need the most help with their mental/emotional wellness.

The interest in wellness benefits that target emotional and mental health is rising. In fact, our survey also found that six percent of employers offer mental health coverage, with seven percent saying they plan to offer it in the next few years.

When it comes to employee well-being, you need to think beyond free snacks and step contests, and focus on both physical and mental health.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular wellness benefits, what value they offer, and how you can promote them:

Most Commonly Offered Benefits

In our survey, employers shared what wellness benefits they offered. Here are some of the most common ones:

Health insurance

With ongoing debates and changes to health care laws in the U.S., this benefit is especially valuable. Knowing they’re covered in case of unexpected, high-cost emergencies gives employees peace of mind.

In addition, it also helps boost employee well-being by giving them access to preventative care. They can catch early signs of illness and make lifestyle changes to better manage symptoms.

Flex scheduling

More and more employers are offering flexible work options. This helps their staff establish a healthy work-life balance. They can manage their workload and hit their deadlines while keeping a stable, healthy life outside of the office.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

While EAPs are often underutilized, they’re integral to providing employees with assistance on several life events. As such, they should be used for more than just emergencies.

Instead, employees should proactively use services through the program like counseling and financial planning to prevent major incidents later on.

Mental health coverage

Employees need to be able to manage their mental health just as they do their physical health. In fact, a recent story went viral that showed the proper way employers should help employees manage their mental health.

Madalyn Parker sent an email to her team at Olark Live Chats explaining that she needed a few days to focus on her mental health. In response, her CEO, Ben Congleton, thanked her for being open and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health.

When you cover mental health services like counselling and substance abuse treatment, your staff can manage common disorders like depression and anxiety. This helps improve overall employee well-being and gives your staff a clearer headspace so they can be their most productive.

Mindfulness training

There are several benefits to teaching mindfulness to your employees. It helps improve memory and focus, as well as reduces negative emotions and anxiety.

One of the most popular mindfulness training programs started at Google. As a software engineer, Chade Meng Tan created the mindfulness course Search Inside Yourself, which is now offered through his non-profit instittion.

How to Promote Benefits

You won’t see employee well-being improve by merely offering wellness benefits. You have to encourage your staff to use them and get them excited about improving their health. This is especially important, considering our survey found that 10 percent of employers say the main reason employees aren’t using their wellness benefits is because they’re not interested in addressing their own well-being.

So, provide incentives for those who actually participate and use their benefits. Tie rewards to each wellness task they complete, such as taking a health risk assessment, setting wellness goals, and completing mindfulness training.

Find rewards that are within your budget. For example, give them gift cards, an extra day of paid time off, or a shirt that says ‘Wellness Warrior.’ This way, they feel a stronger sense of involvement in their personal health and are motivated to continue pursuing their wellness goals.

Also, to encourage a culture of learning, ask employees to speak about their experiences with various wellness benefits. Then, use their testimonials to inspire others to make the most of their wellness offerings.

Offering wellness benefits is just half the journey to boosting employee well-being. Develop a strategy that helps your staff understand what benefits they have and how they can use them.

Make your employees feel loved