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Is 2021 the Year of Employee Wellbeing?

Every company in every industry has risks associated with being in business. These risks are all around, from external forces such as competition to internal forces such as employee issues.

Each business in each industry has specific risks and threats, and while they can sometimes be similar to each other, they’re oftentimes unique to each business and each industry based on market factors.

However, there is one threat that spans all businesses in all industries, one many might not even be considering: Health care. The rising cost of health care is one of the biggest threats every business faces today, and there seems to be no end in sight.

On average, the United States is spending almost $10,000 per person per year for health care, according to recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. What’s worse, that is only predicted to increase even more in the next few years – up 50 percent by 2023 to $15,000.

To put that in perspective, 18 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product goes to health-care costs; about $18 of every $100 of production in the country is associated with health-care costs.

Over the last 15 years, the rate of inflation was 38 percent. In that same time, average salaries and income have risen 47 percent. Health care costs have increased 172 percent in that time, six times the rate of normal inflation.

The big question is, what, if anything, can be done? For one, people can get healthier. The healthier people are, the less likely they are to need health care and, therefore, the cheaper it will become. This was the main reason why employers across the country began implementing wellness and healthy rebate programs a few years ago.

In 2021, wellbeing has expanded to incorporate not just physical wellness, but mental health as well. As has been proven time and again, the happier and healthier employees are, the more productive they’ll be.

Wellbeing programs have risen in popularity over the last few years, trickling all the way down from just large corporations to mom-and-pop shops. But things have finally come to a head, and wellbeing is now top-of-mind for most organizations that understand both the short- and long-term value of providing programs and plans to keep their employees happy and healthy.

In fact, more than two-thirds of employers now offer wellness programs as a part of the benefits package they offer their employees, according to the Society of Human Resource Management.

The Cost of Not Being Well

It’s sobering to look at some statistics associated with not being well. It’s important to understand these to see how a lack of wellness is contributing to the general lack of health and, therefore, extremely high cost of health care.

Judy Molinaro, an author of health and fitness books who advises on corporate wellness, lays out some of these statistics on her site:

  • More than 70 percent of people in the country experience either physical or psychological symptoms that are caused by stress.

  • These stress-related ailments account for 75-90 percent of all doctor visits in the country.

  • More than 1.7 million people die every year as the result of chronic diseases. That’s seven of every 10 deaths.

  • More than 75 percent of health-care costs are associated with treating chronic diseases.

Not surprisingly, a lot of this stress is caused by work environment, and people aren’t finding healthy ways to relieve this stress, both physically and mentally. The result is actual ailments that can form into chronic diseases that are having a very dire result.

Why Should Employers Care About Wellness?

There are too many answers to that question to fully explore here. From attracting and retaining top talent to your company, to getting the most out of your employees, to just genuinely caring about them as human beings, employers today have a responsibility to help their employees take care of themselves, both physically and mentally. It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s also a strong tactical advantage a company can create for itself.

People spend a lot of time at their jobs, more than one-third of their day on average, in fact. But that doesn’t paint the full picture. Another one-third of the typical American weekday can be written off as sleeping hours, or preparing for sleep. And that final one-third? Part of it, too, is spent either commuting to or from work, thinking about work and maybe even doing work outside the office.

Maybe that’s why, as The Happiness Index found through a recent survey, that a majority of people find things such as enjoyment of role, trust and work-life balance to be more important than salaries when it comes to feeling happy at work.

People who are happy at work tend to stay there longer, and produce better while they are there. Companies that provide a happy place to work tend to attract the better talent and are able to retain it longer.

What Does Workplace Wellbeing Mean in 2021?

Workplace wellbeing today is defined as much more than just being physically healthy. It’s no longer about only getting exercise or eating healthy. It has also come to include mental wellbeing, through initiatives such as:

  • Team-building exercises

  • Mindfulness or meditation classes

  • Employee recognition programs

  • General work-life balance initiatives

To truly stand out in 2021, employers need to play an active role in their employees’ wellbeing. This means creating in-office programs designed to keep employees happy and healthy, then supplementing that with a wellness program through benefits they provide.

When most people think of wellness benefits, they think of the age-old reimbursement programs many health-care providers offer. Go to the gym at least three times a week, get someone to sign that you were there, submit a form to the insurance company and get $20 in reimbursement funds to help you pay for the gym membership.

Employees in 2021 want more than that, though. They don’t want to be burdened with loads of paperwork to receive a partial refund later. They don’t want to have to shell out upfront money for the gym membership, only to get a portion of it back.

Companies can stand out from their competition by showing their employees they are willing to take the next step forward in wellness benefits, proactively providing the funds for employees to pick and choose which ones are right for them.

With Holistictly, companies can upgrade their reimbursement model of wellbeing to a stipend platform. The Holisticly platform makes it simple for employees by flipping the model on its head. Employers fully subsidize a wellness stipend for each of their employees through the program. Then, employees can use the money deposited in their account for whatever wellness areas are most important to them.

The great part about Holisticly is the employer pre-approves each of the benefits offered to their employees, and it’s a wide range of offerings, too. Employees can choose from programs designed to address:

  • Fitness

  • Nutrition

  • Mental health

  • Social wellbeing

  • Sleep quality

  • Financial wellbeing

Holisticly provides an easy-to-use solution for employers, and an easy-to-use platform for employees that removes the hassle of taking advantage of the benefit, thereby encouraging more employees to use it.

There’s no doubt that 2021 is the year of employee wellbeing. The real question is, are you providing your employees with the best benefits you can?


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