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The employer’s guide to employee wellness programs in 2024

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6 mins

As an employer, you’re keenly aware of how fierce the competition is to attract and hire top-tier employees. Like your competitors, you’ve probably ratcheted up your traditional benefit programs, like group life, health, and long term disability insurance.

You may even be looking at progressive new benefits that are available, such as creating a space for daycare in your building or implementing a new, much-needed parental leave program.

But, there may be something obvious that you’ve overlooked, as many companies have – employee wellness programs.

Let’s look at employee wellness programs, why you should implement them, their benefits to you and your employees, and some examples of creative wellness programs.

What is an employee wellness program?

An employee wellness program is a plan designed by employers — typically HR in collaboration with executive leadership — to promote the mental, physical, and financial health of their employees. This type of program allows your employer or plan to offer you premium discounts, cash rewards, gym memberships, and other incentives to participate.

Nowadays, employee wellness benefits are standard fare and no longer turn people’s heads. In today's hypercompetitive talent landscape, employers are constantly looking for creative ways to stand out with inclusive benefits, and employee wellness programs present a prime opportunity to do so.

Although employee wellness program access is usually offered through a company's benefits package, some insurance plans can offer them directly to their enrollees.

5 employee wellness program examples your team will love

Progressive companies intent on attracting and retaining valuable employees have become more accommodating with their wellness programs. Here are a few you’re probably familiar with, and a few you aren’t.

1. Flexible working hours

Startups have already figured this one out, but many older and larger companies have yet to jump on board. Employees are clamoring for this program, but most large employers have dug their heels in and still won’t compromise.

One large company that recognized their employees were becoming increasingly concerned with work-life balance is the defense contractor and cybersecurity company Raytheon.

Raytheon has acknowledged and validated their employee's concerns by instituting several flex-hours options, including one they call a “modified workweek.” This allows employees to work the days and hours that best fit their schedules, providing they work a total of 80 hours each bi-weekly pay period.

2. Remote working arrangements

Another wellness program that goes hand-in-hand with flexible hours is remote working arrangements. Most companies have some roles that can be handled remotely, which has been proven by the COVID-19 pandemic to work well.

Studies have shown that employees given some autonomy to work remotely feel more trust from their employers and are happier. A survey conducted by Flex Jobs bears this out, reporting that 58% of participants agreed they would “absolutely” look for a new job if they couldn’t continue working remotely in their current role.

[ Report: To remain remote, employees ready to give up benefits, PTO & salary ]

3. Financial education

This wellness program is easy to implement, yet many employers have neglected it.

A stressed employee is often an employee who is not fully engaged at work, and many of your employees are stressed out about money. They’re battling inflation and rising interest rates and often feel like they’re losing the war. Most of your employees have “too much month left at the end of the money.”

Being provided with a financial education program is something you’ll find the majority of your employees will take advantage of. You can find these programs online, watch them together as a group, and then discuss them.

You can also ask a local Certified Financial Planner to teach the classes. Many will be happy to do it at no charge because they know they’ll likely pick up some new clients from their audience.

[ Related: Why is financial wellness important? ]

4. Support community involvement

Fostering an environment of community involvement can transform your company’s culture and lift its public visibility. People feel good when they volunteer, and they think more highly of employers that encourage it.

You can plan a company-wide volunteer program or allow your employees a few hours a month to spend time away from the office volunteering in the program of their choice.

One company doing this right is Timberland, the outdoor apparel retailer. They’ve been supporting community involvement since 1992.

Timberland pays employees to take days off and volunteer — up to 40 hours per year. This paid time off is separate from any other paid personal or vacation time off.

5. Parent coaching & support

The pandemic taught employers many lessons, including how much more working parents struggle for a healthy work-life balance than their childless counterparts.

By offering parent coaching, you can help your staff enjoy a better work-life balance and improve their family relationships. As a result, your employees will have a happier home life, and you’ll notice them being more engaged and motivated while on the job.

Online marketplace Etsy provides its employees who are parents with access to coaching, counseling, and other outlets for support. They’ve proven to their team that they want to help address the struggles working parents face.

[ Related: Top 10 employee benefits for working parents ]

Benefits of employee wellness programs for employers

There are many reasons why you should want to add new wellness programs for your employees or begin if you aren’t already. Here are some of them:

  • Reduce healthcare costs
  • Improve employee productivity
  • Help with recruiting new employees
  • Decrease absenteeism
  • Improve job satisfaction
  • Overcome worker apathy
  • Help employees eat, drink, and smoke less
  • Build and sustain high employee morale

While this list alone gives you enough reasons to roll up your sleeves or get HR to strengthen your employee wellness programs, consider that it’s also the right thing as an employer to do for your people.

Your employees spend about 1/3rd of their life helping build a company for you, shareholders, or both, and many put their heart and soul into it.

Adding some of these wellness programs is a fitting way to express your appreciation by not just throwing money at them (which they don’t mind) but by trying to improve their happiness and personal satisfaction as people.

If your interest is piqued at all, send out a survey and ask your employees what type of wellness programs they’d like to have. They’ll appreciate that you asked, and they’ll appreciate it even more if you move forward and put a new program or two in place.

The information and content provided herein is for educational purposes only, and should not be considered legal, tax, investment, or financial advice, recommendation, or endorsement. Breeze does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, reliability or usefulness of any testimonials, opinions, advice, product or service offers, or other information provided here by third parties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

— Published November 11, 2022
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