Technology influencing the future of wellness benefits: survey

Employers will rely more on technology to shape and analyze their future wellness offerings, according to a global workforce well-being survey by consultancy Buck.

The survey, which polled more than 250 employers, found the majority of organizations are planning to offer workplace health competitions (62 per cent), stress management programs (60 per cent), workplace environment improvements (58 per cent), online courses and training for healthy lifestyles (57 per cent) and online decision-support tools (52 per cent).

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Employers also reported they intend to apply predictive analytics (50 per cent), incentive tools and tracking (44 per cent), a comprehensive portal (59 per cent) and decision support tools (53 per cent) to their benefits programs.

Today, organizations have more insight on how to promote wellness because they can easily collect and interpret data through technology, says Ruth Hunt, a principal in the engagement practice at Buck. Indeed, the survey found an increase in confidence among employers, with 40 per cent reporting they’ve achieved a culture of well-being in 2018, compared to 33 per cent in 2016.

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Employers likely hold that assurance because they’re able to make “data-driven decisions,” says Hunt. “It’s not just someone’s perception or anecdote, or maybe one of the larger voices in an organization that’s promoting particular tactics, programs and strategies, but instead you have that stronger base on which to make those decisions.”

While 73 per cent of employers are focused on reducing insurance costs, they noted employees’ well-being is being affected by a number of other issues, such as stress (95 per cent), work-life issues (94 per cent), depression, anxiety and weight management issues (93 per cent each respectively) and access to health-care services (92 per cent).

Specifically, many employers are now promoting financial literacy in their benefits programs through money management and budgeting tools (66 per cent), financial health assessments (66 per cent), retirement estimation tools (63 per cent) and financial literacy and skills education (59 per cent).

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Prioritizing employees’ financial well-being will prevent issues such as the inability to retire and delayed retirement, according to survey respondents. Other negative effects cited include lower productivity (52 per cent), absenteeism (47 per cent), higher health-care costs (38 per cent) and unwanted turnover (30 per cent).

Organizations now have a better understanding of the different facets of health and how they can be co-morbidities, says Hunt. ”We’re seeing organizations look at total well-being in a holistic way.”