Employee wellness programs growing as part of benefits programs

9 Jul

Employers are spending more on health and wellness programs for workers.

When it comes to employee benefits management, businesses are continually rearranging their spending to reduce healthcare costs. According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), a recent report discovered that with increasing benefit costs in the workplace, work-flex benefits could become a low-cost method for companies to stand out among other businesses.

More funding is going toward keeping workers healthy and the new report suggests many organizations are open to the idea of giving up other benefits in the process. Flex benefits could include relaxed dress codes, flex work times and work from home privileges. Flex-work benefits are also cheaper and more attractive to workers.

"Flexible working benefits are a cost-effective way to help employees balance their work and personal lives," said SHRM in its report. "These benefits help organizations attract and retain high-quality talent and are a key factor in employee job satisfaction."

Health and wellness programs taking priority
The SHRM report added that wellness programs help keep employees healthier so their workers compensation costs are lower or injuries and illnesses in the workplace might decrease. Most organizations are focused on dental insurance and prescription drug programs with 95 percent of businesses participating. However, contraceptives and vision coverage are only supported by less than 85 percent of companies respectively.

"Offering health benefits is critical to employee recruitment and retention," said Bruce Elliott, the manager of compensation and benefits at SHRM. "However, the rising cost of health benefits, especially health insurance, has made it challenging for some employers to continue offering it. Because of that, employers are evaluating all their benefits and making adjustments."

The expansion of medical coverage and wellness programs is growing from the need to limit medical costs with healthier employees, the Associated Press reported. One of the major reasons why companies are expanding their wellness programs is due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Helen Darling, the chief executive officer for the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit organization that backs businesses on healthcare issues, explained that as companies look to lower costs and avoid taxes from the ACA, more attention toward wellness programs is indicating a "visible wake-up call to all employers," the AP reported.

"The workforce is constantly evolving, and these shifts influence how employees perceive their benefits plans," said SHRM in the report. "The marketplace is also constantly undergoing change, so benefits programs must be regularly assessed to make sure that employees understand the value of their benefits packages and that the organization is remaining competitive in the marketplace."

Other health-related benefits on the decline
The amount of flu vaccine clinics, CPR and first-aid training and stress reduction programs offered on-site have seen a rapid drop in the last five years, SHRM reported. On the other hand, healthy living and lifestyle coaching has seen a 41 percent growth, while preventive treatments geared toward chronic diseases have seen an increase by 21 percent in 2014.

More companies view adding health and wellness programs as a win-win situation between their employees and employee benefits management spending.

Comments are closed.