Employers have long recognized the benefits of wellness programs to keep employees healthy and engaged and to control overall health costs. In fact, in its annual survey of workplace wellness trends, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that more than 80% of organizations in the United States and Canada offer some kind of wellness initiative, and more than 60% plan to increase their wellness budgets over the next two years.
What is noteworthy, however, is the breadth of options companies are offering. More than half provide traditional initiatives such as flu shots, smoking cessation programs and health risk assessments. But nontraditional wellness initiatives are growing in popularity. Many companies are now organizing community charity events, workplace celebrations, staff outings, blood drives, game leagues and even themed dress-up days. Mental health coverage has also become common as employers try to provide more crisis and stress management assistance.
“Employers are taking a greater interest in the social and mental well-being of their employees,” said IFEBP director of research Julie Stich. “Both traditional and nontraditional wellness benefits are creating the return on investment employers are looking for in their workplace wellness programs.”