Employee mental health has taken center stage as one of the top HR priorities facing employers with nearly all companies identifying stress and burnout as a threat for their workforces, according to a survey by WTW (Willis Towers Watson). Nearly all (86 percent) of employers said that mental health, stress and burnout are a top priority; however, half (49 percent) have not yet formally articulated a wellbeing strategy for their workforce and only a quarter have already articulated and adopted a well-being strategy.
“As stress and burnout levels continue to climb amid the ongoing pandemic, employers are putting the overall well-being of their employees at the top of their list,” said Regina Ihrke, senior director, Health and Benefits, WTW. “The organizations that most effectively move the needle are those that develop a comprehensive strategy that supports all aspects of their employees’ well-being. It’s also important to articulate that strategy to employees, conduct manager training and measure effectiveness.”
The survey identified the top two actions respondents plan to take in 2022 or are considering for 2023 to improve employee well-being in each of the following four categories: emotional, physical, social and financial well-being.
Emotional well-being. Top two actions employers plan to take are:
1. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents are planning or considering implementing an organization-wide behavioral health strategy and action plan. Only a third (35 percent) currently have one.
2. Four in 10 respondents (39 percent) are planning or considering redesigning their employee assistance program (EAP), including increasing limits on visits and expanding services. Forty-two percent redesigned their EAP in 2021.
Physical well-being. Top two actions employers plan to take are:
1. More than a quarter of respondents (27 percent) are planning or considering programs that target specific conditions for high-cost cases such as maternity, diabetes and depression. Nearly two in three (64 percent) currently offer these programs.
2. One in four respondents (25 percent) are planning or considering promoting the use of mobile apps for physical wellbeing. Two in three (65 percent) currently do.
Financial well-being. Top two actions employers plan to take are:
1. One-third of respondents (34 percent) are planning or considering setting objectives and tracking financial well-being programs at pivotal financial decision points such as new family, young children and first house. Only two in 10 (18 percent) currently do.
2. One-third of respondents (33 percent) are planning or considering assessing their financial well-being programs for consistency with inclusion and diversity values. About one-quarter of respondents (24 percent) currently do.
Social well-being. Top two actions employers plan to take are:
1. One-third of employers (32 percent) are planning or considering examining onsite perks to support new work arrangements. More than a third (37 percent) currently do.
2. One third (32 percent) are planning or considering incorporating inclusion and diversity priorities in their benefit program design. Almost half (47 percent) currently do.
“As we move into 2022, employers struggling with recruitment and retention will look to make their well-being programs a differentiator to attract and engage top talent. For years, employers have used financial rewards to encourage employees to take action for their own well-being; however, as those incentives have often failed to change employee behavior, employers are seeking new avenues to engage and incent employees to take charge of their own well-being,” said Ihrke.
About the survey. A total of 322 U.S. employers participated in the 2021 Wellbeing Diagnostic Survey, which was conducted in October 2021. Respondents employ 5.3 million workers.
From WCI's HR Answers Now ©2022 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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