Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of employers have increased their communications emphasis on mental-health and behavioural health offerings in the past two years, according to a new survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

In addition, the survey found 90 per cent of employers said they offer employee assistance programs, 86 per cent provide mental-health coverage and 67 per cent cover substance use disorder benefits. Other common offerings included access to mental-health mobile apps (41 per cent) and information sessions hosted in the workplace (40 per cent).

When asked which medical conditions have the most significant impact on benefits plan costs, respondents cited cancer (49 per cent), musculoskeletal disease (48 per cent) and diabetes/metabolic syndrome (46 per cent).

Read: Employers continue to highlight mental-health supports, prioritize staff well-being

“During the [coronavirus] pandemic, many workers postponed their regular or preventive care doctor visits and did not go to their preventive screenings,” said Julie Stich, vice-president of content at the IFEBP, in a press release. “Organizations that switched to remote work were also not as likely to offer annual heath screening and assessments. In many cases, more costly conditions could have been detected and treated earlier.”

The survey also found the top issues impacting workforce productivity were stress (65 per cent), coronavirus-specific issues (39 per cent) and difficulty recruiting new workers (29 per cent).

Roughly two-thirds (64 per cent) of respondents said they’re providing flexible working arrangements to employees. And, while employers said workplace wellness programs are a big piece of the puzzle for building and developing talent, they also face major barriers, including difficulty for workers to find time to participate (37 per cent), prohibitive costs (30 per cent), lack of employee interest (28 per cent), difficulty to keep momentum going (25 per cent) and dispersed population due to the pandemic (21 per cent).

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