Employers Centering Benefits Around Workforce Well-Being

Over the course of the year, we have seen increased demand for well-being programs and mental health resources from a wide array of employee populations. To meet this demand, employers have been prompted to create, or ramp up current well-being offerings, which can electrify a healthier and more engaged workforce.

The 12th Annual Employer-Sponsored Health & Well-Being Survey from Fidelity Investments — a survey focused on areas like, defining well-being, types of well-being programs offered, staffing, and global well-being strategies and communication — received responses from 166 large and mid-size U.S. national and multinational companies. The research encompassed employers who are revising their employee well-being programs to address the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For 2021, the survey found developments in the following areas:

  • Mental Health & Emotional Well-Being 92 percent of respondents expanded their support for programs addressing issues such as stress management, sleep improvement and resiliency, as well as supporting mental health programs for dependents.
  • Work & Life Balance 74 percent of employers increased work-life opportunities, with 69 percent adding or expanding leave benefits during the pandemic. Additionally, multiple employers are exploring parental leave policies that accommodate parents who may adopt a child.
  • Caregiving 64 percent of employers enhanced childcare support; 55 percent provided new paid time off (PTO) to care for a child or other family member and 48 percent offered backup childcare support.
  • Financial Well-Being 83 percent of employers have or will provide programs to support emergency savings, debt management and budgeting tools. 77 percent will offer resources to support key financial decisions such as mortgages, wills, and income protection.

Large companies continue to expand their investment in employee’ well-being programs. Specifically, the total budget for these programs averaged $6 million in 2021, up from the average budget of $4.9 million in 2020.

According to Paychex’s 2021 State of Mental Health in the Workplace Report, employees at smaller workplaces plan to prioritize well-being support when they look for their next job. The top benefits employees cited as “very helpful” were: employee-specific professional development plans, flexible schedule options, employee progress and goal tracking systems, health-maintenance programs, and resources that offer treatment referrals for mental health issues or substance abuse.

As more employees open up about their mental health and overall well-being, the demand for benefits in this area will continue to grow. It is crucial for employers to do their best in understanding and accommodating the benefit needs of their employees to keep their organization engaged, safe and healthy.

Information provided by SHRM.