Wellness Programs Take on New Importance

Wellness Initiatives are Widespread Among Mid-Size and Large Employers, but are Less Common Among Small Organizations, Says XpertHR Survey

XpertHR

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began having an impact on employee wellbeing, employee wellness programs – originally introduced in the ’80s to promote physical health – had begun shifting to more holistic programs focusing on mental health, work/life balance, fitness, and financial security. Today, these wellness initiatives are fairly common, as over six in 10 organizations responding to XpertHR’s 2020 Employee Wellness Survey indicated they either have a formal program in place, or run wellness initiatives without a formal program.

“There is a greater need for wellness initiatives today, especially in light of new challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic,” says Andrew Hellwege, Surveys Editor, XpertHR. “Stress levels are rising, and companies of all sizes need to address these issues or they risk a negative impact on employee wellbeing and lost productivity.”

While wellness initiatives and programs are widespread among mid-size and large employers, they are less common among small organizations. Fully 89% of organizations with 1,000 or more workers have either a formal wellness program or run wellness initiatives without a formal program, compared with 75% of employers with 250 to 999 workers, and 46% of organizations with a staff of fewer than 250.

Cost may be a contributing factor to why smaller organizations are less likely to have wellness programs or initiatives. Of the companies currently offering wellness programs or initiatives, almost one-half (46%) reported that they are spending less than $200 per employee on an annual basis, while 37% are spending between $200 and $400 per worker, and 17% are spending over $400 per employee.

However, despite the cost of wellness programs, their popularity seems poised to grow, as one-half of those who have no wellness initiatives or programs in place say they plan to introduce a formal wellness program or some initiatives in the near future. When asked why they haven’t put wellness programs in place, 39% said it has been due to a lack of resources and 38% explain that the “company just hasn’t gotten around to it.”

“In a time of crisis, implementing wellbeing and mental health strategies is one of the most important investments a company can make,” says Hellwege. “As companies navigate the current pandemic, they should consider putting wellness policies and practices in place to address employee needs just as they would a business continuity operation plan.”

XpertHR’s 2020 Survey on Employee Wellness fielded in November 2019 and published in December 2019. This survey includes the responses from 150 organizations of various industries and workforce sizes. The total estimated number of employees of responding organizations is nearly 376,000.

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