While organizations have been using health and wellness programs to engage employees for decades, in recent years the rewards space has moved toward a more holistic view of employee wellbeing. Today, companies are feeling pressure from all sides to enhance their employee wellbeing programs. Employees are hearing more about the wellbeing benefits their friends are being offered at other organizations, our peers are innovating in this space, and vendors are constantly coming up with new services to differentiate themselves as they compete for our business.
Facing these combined pressures, companies have greatly expanded their wellbeing offerings in the past five years: Whereas in 2013, the average company had four wellbeing programs, by 2017 that number had quadrupled to 16. In a peer benchmarking session at the CEB ReimagineHR summit in Washington, DC, last Thursday, a plurality of rewards leaders said they expected wellness or wellbeing to be their number one area of change in 2018, more than healthcare or retirement.
Budgets for wellbeing, however, are not growing: Most companies we surveyed at CEB said their wellbeing expenditures were either remaining the same or decreasing from 2016 to 2017. As demand grows while budgets stagnate, many HR functions are being asked to do more with less in their employee wellbeing programs. Here are some facts for total rewards leaders to keep in mind as they try to get the most bang for their wellbeing buck.
Holistic Wellbeing Programs Have a Real Impact on Engagement
The shift in the conversation from wellness to wellbeing reflects a growing awareness that maximizing employee productivity and minimizing health care costs involves not just preventing or managing diseases, or even promoting physical fitness, but also helping to mitigate stress. That’s how psychological, emotional, and even financial wellbeing became part of the more holistic offerings we’re seeing today.
And there’s a good reason for this change, because organizations with well-designed holistic wellbeing programs see levels of employee engagement nearly 10 percent higher than average. Designing a progressive wellbeing program has as much positive impact on engagement as letting employees choose their own hours, and three times as much impact as providing dental and vision benefits.