If your group health insurance plan covers your employees’ spouses, why shouldn’t your wellness program do the same? At Employee Benefit News last week, Karen Moseley reviewed some research showing the benefits of including spouses in employee well-being initiatives:
By allowing spouses to take part in well-being programs, they may drive better participation from employees. Data from the HERO Scorecard support that idea. For example:
- 28% of employees participated in lifestyle coaching if a spouse was involved, compared to 14% with no spousal involvement.
- 88% of employers reported improvements in health risk with spousal involvement, compared to 81% without.
- 70% reported positive impact on medical trend with spousal involvement, compared to 64% without. …
The benefits of including spouses in wellness efforts are not strictly financial. A 2016 Harvard Business Review survey found that 70% of participants in employee well-being programs felt the program was an indication their employers supported them. Extending wellness support to family members only strengthens that connection. Improving a spouse’s well-being might even make an employee more productive.
Our research at CEB (now Gartner) further reinforces the importance of employees’ spouses to encourage healthy behaviors. We find that spouses and partners are the biggest motivator for wellness activities such as exercise and healthy eating, and have more influence on employees’ health behaviors than doctors, nurses, or other health providers.
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Automation is coming to the HR function fast, and most employers expect entire HR roles to be taken over by machines within the next decade, according to the results of a survey CareerBuilder released last week. In the poll, conducted late last year among HR managers and recruiters at a variety of private sector organizations with more than 250 employees, 72 percent of respondents said they “expect that some roles within talent acquisition and human capital management will become completely automated within the next 10 years.” CareerBuilder also took a look at how many organizations are already adopting automated HR processes:
The rate at which companies with 250-plus employees are adopting automation varies considerably. Although more are turning to technology to address time-consuming, labor-intensive talent acquisition and management tasks – that are susceptible to human error – the study shows a significant proportion continue to rely on manual processes. One-third of employers (34 percent) don’t use technology automation for recruiting candidates, 44 percent don’t automate onboarding and 60 percent don’t automate human capital management activities for employees.
A survey released last week found that many employers may be underestimating the impact of mental health and substance abuse problems on their workforce. Amanda Eisenberg reports at Employee Benefit News:
In the “Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits” survey of 247 U.S. employers conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, more than three in five (64%) organizations said that less than 30% of their workforce is affected by mental health or substance abuse issues. About one quarter of employers said they were unsure if their employees were impacted by these issues at all. In fact, about one in five American adults suffer from mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and one in 10 American adults suffer from substance abuse, according to the Open Society Institute.
The survey found that 91 percent of employers offered an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides employees access to assessment, counseling, or mental health services, but few employees are taking advantage of these programs:
The number of employees using an employee assistance program make up between 1% and 6% of the workforce, according to the study. A smaller percentage of employers offer wellness programs with a mental health or substance abuse component (38%) or a stress-management program (23%), according to the survey. While an employee might suffer from one or more conditions, not all conditions are covered under an EAP.
Progressive organizations continue to invest in wellness or wellbeing programs that meet workforce needs through a more targeted but still extensive portfolio of features. CEB’s assessment of employee preferences regarding these programs shows that employees expect their employer to address all their wellbeing needs, and most employers do: 83 percent of polled organizations said they were offering emotional and/or mental wellbeing programs. Emotional wellbeing has become a “traditional” element of the wellbeing portfolio, and in turn, employees are less forgiving in the absence of such an offering.
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Lenny Sanicola at WorldatWork predicts that among the major rewards trends in the coming year, more employers will be using big data to target their benefits communications:
In order to further engage employees in their benefits and drive certain behaviors, both the approach to messaging and delivery will continue to evolve. We will see more employee segmentation with the goal of creating more targeted, personalized messaging that is delivered among a variety of social media platforms. Some companies are leveraging interactive communications and incorporating gamification elements to enhance messaging and drive engagement. Others are exploring the use of data mining and analytics to create relative and timely targeted messages to employees and family members.
Indeed, benefits communicators are presented with an ever-growing mix of communication options, as well as an increasingly “competitive” communication landscape in which employees are receiving more messages from more sources than ever before. Benefits teams then face important questions about how to use the right content and channels to communicate benefits, often with scarce time and money.
This year, the CEB Total Rewards Leadership Council surveyed over 10,000 employees globally to identify which of the many options employees are most responsive to—that is, which options have the greatest positive impact on their perceptions of rewards—and found that channels that mimic a “human touch” are the most effective.
The challenge for organizations is that delivering personalized communications can be costly and easily overdone with no real impact. The key to managing this challenge with a tight budget is personalization at scale: Organizations can often take advantage of channels already present in the organization, which employees already use, and that can be made to feel personal.