New Year, New You with Employee Wellness Programs

As we welcome a new year, many of us are focused on how we can better ourselves and are making new resolutions. Some are emphasizing physical health, vowing to eat better and exercise more. Others are targeting their financial health, making an effort to spend less and save more. Some are centered on taking care of their mental health. By sponsoring wellness programs, employers can help employees meet these goals and more in the new year.

Employees demonstrate loyalty to employers who offer broad wellness programs. In fact, employers with more than 7 health and wellness programs are almost twice as likely to keep their current staff.  And, those employees are 3 times as likely to recommend their employer to job seekers. With employers focused on both attracting and retaining top talent, what can employers do to help support employee resolutions?

Ask employees what they want

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that employers use surveys, interviews, and/or focus groups to learn what is important to their employees. Creating the types of wellness programs that employees have specifically requested may increase participation for a better return on investment.

Promote physical health initiatives

Only about half of American adults meet the CDC’s recommendations for routine physical activity. How can wellness programs help? Employers can work with local gyms and fitness instructors to arrange a volume discount on memberships and class attendance fees. They can encourage employees to compete in individual and team sports like 5K runs/walks and adult recreational sports leagues. They can assist with healthy eating goals by stocking healthier options in vending machines, providing fresh fruit and vegetable snack options in breakrooms, and/or enabling access to a dietician or nutritionist.

Support mental health 

From pandemic-related depression to burnout from the labor shortage, mental health has become a top priority for many peopleBenefitsPRO cites a number of initiatives that can help employers support the mental health of their employees:

  • Create a safe space for employees to discuss issues.
  • Offer more flexible schedules to support better work/life balance.
  • Prioritize time off to reduce or eliminate burnout.
  • Provide access to benefit accounts that cover mental health products and services like FSAs and HSAs.
  • Provide education on, or access to, resources like:
    • Counseling, therapy and other professional mental health services
    • Classes to teach relaxation and stress reduction like meditation and yoga
    • Technology apps that support mental health

Financial wellness

Many Americans are prioritizing their financial wellbeing as a resolution for the new year. Employers can support these goals as well. A financial advisor could host educational webinars on budgeting, financial planning and saving for retirement. Emergency savings accounts, funded by employees through automatic payroll deduction, can be very helpful for those who find it hard to save. And finally, if the company doesn’t already offer a 401(k) plan, it could be a good time to revisit the possibility of starting one.

Improved employee wellness can result in measurable gains for both your employees and your company. These are just a handful of ideas to get you started. For even more suggestions, check out SnackNation’s list of 121 wellness program ideas.

DataPath Administrative Services has been providing professional third-party administration for employee benefit plans (FSA, DCAP, HRA, HSA, Transit, COBRA, and more) since 1996.