4 Ways Employers Can Improve Employee Well-being Programs

January 4, 2023 |read icon 5 min read

A yoga instructor holding class.Employees rank wellness programs and services among the top benefits they value. During the pandemic, these benefits became even more important. Employees experienced unexpected life changes that caused extreme stress and worry. And they relied on their well-being benefits to help them get through. They used telehealth visits with doctors and dentists, financial counseling for budget management, and employee assistance counseling to support mental health.

Now as the pandemic eases, employers are redesigning benefits programs with a stronger emphasis on employee well-being. Review four ways employers are improving employee well-being programs.

1. Protect emotional health – The pandemic took a huge toll on employees’ health and well-being. But as health experts lifted restrictions, many business leaders thought work operations would return to how they were before the pandemic. Research shows that more than 80% of executives believe employees are thriving in all aspects of their well-being. However, these executives don’t realize how much their employees are struggling.

Many employees have long-lasting emotional and mental health problems due to the pandemic. A snap of the fingers won’t cure their worries about their families, health and finances. Today many workers are prioritizing well-being over work.

Employers should offer well-being programs that support and protect employees’ emotional and mental health. There are many options available, so talk with employees, through surveys and informal chats, to learn the benefits and programs they value.

Some workers may want regular access to counseling services, such as an Employee Assistance Program. Most will want more flexible work hours and paid time off. When working on-site, they will want a work environment emphasizing safety and security. Get employee input and follow up with the results.

Employers who support employees’ emotional and physical health will reap the benefits of happier and healthier workers.

2. Offer medical, dental, vision – Medical insurance is a primary benefit most employers offer workers, at least at a basic coverage level. In addition, researchers have identified the impact of employees’ oral and vision health on business productivity. Often workers with toothaches or eyestrain miss work or cannot focus on their job.

As a result, businesses now offer dental and vision insurance as staple benefits. And, as inflation impacts employees’ paychecks, many employers are offering similar levels of health coverage as in the past, but not passing along premium increases to employees.

3. Support social connections – One of the lessons of the pandemic is that employees need active relationships with coworkers, family and friends. Although many workers want to maintain remote offices, they also realize they need regular social interactions. Although online meetings keep work projects flowing, there also is a need for in-person meetings to stay connected.

Research shows that, on average, full-time workers spend half their waking life at work. That’s why the U.S. Surgeon General reports that workplaces significantly shape employees’ mental and physical well-being.

One way employers can support social interactions is through community service projects. Offer a variety of ways team members can come together to support the needs of charitable organizations in their neighborhoods. Employees enjoy giving back, especially when they can connect and have fun with coworkers.

Employers can take these service projects to the next level by asking employees to share their experiences and the lessons they learned while helping others.

4. Provide growth and development – As employees struggle with the impact of the pandemic and tough economic times, they’re looking for stability and security. Employers can support employees by providing:

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