Benefits Solutions and Employee Well-Being in Uncertainty

Benefit Trends Executive Health September 24, 2020

As the challenges of the pandemic continue, workers across industries are under historic pressures. Employees are facing a great deal of uncertainty about their jobs, remote work environments and the future. In our always-on culture, the pandemic has further blurred the lines between work and home, pushing extending the workday by nearly fifty minutes (on average).[1] This is where benefit solutions come in.

The current “normal” feels far from it, and this uncertainty is fueling heightened stress and strain. Of course, stress in the workplace isn’t new. But now it’s higher than ever, and workers are struggling to unplug at the end of long days, find motivation for projects and even to focus on their work. With the ongoing demands of this new work-life reality for employees at all levels, this stress and fatigue are unlikely to ease anytime soon. In short, employees need benefit solutions that support their well-being as a whole.

High rates of mental distress in the workplace

The pandemic has affected employee well-being across the US: nearly half of American adults report increased anxiety and depression as uncertainty continues.[2] According to the CDC, pandemic-induced stress can contribute to worsening mental health conditions.[3] People with pre-existing mental health conditions can be especially vulnerable amid this ongoing uncertainty. And mental health conditions are increasingly common: nearly one in five American adults suffers from a mental health condition each year.[4] Just over 40% of adults with mental illness received treatment in 2018,[5] meaning that many people don’t seek out the support and help they need. In fact, research from the American Heart Association found that 64% of people living with a mental health condition do not disclose it to their employers.[6] This can be because of the stigma associated with a mental health condition diagnosis. Lack of treatment can also stem from a lack of coverage or access to mental health professionals.

Mental health in the workplace matters. People living with mental health conditions miss more days of work. Research has found that individuals with anxiety disorders may miss as many as five days of work per month.[7] Behavioral health issues come with a high cost: lost productivity, increased time off, higher turnover and higher medical and disability costs.[8]

Organizations that address the realities of workplace stress and prioritize employee well-being by offering benefit solutions that target these increasing issues are better positioned to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. They are also likely to emerge from a crisis with improved performance.

Defining employee well-being

The definition of employee well-being has evolved. Today, well-being is considered a person’s ability to transcend the absence of illness by securing traction and balance in both work and recreation. It’s a holistic, integrated approach to wellness that considers well-being in all areas of a person’s life: physical, financial, social/family, emotional/mental, and purpose.

Traditional employer wellness programs fall short in addressing true employee well-being. This is because many employer wellness programs have focused solely on aspects of physical health and reducing the risks from or impact of chronic health conditions on job function and performance. Unfortunately, this approach can miss the mark as physical conditions are often directly affected by one’s mental and emotional health.  That’s why benefit solutions that offer protection and coverage towards employee well-being as a whole, are imperative to the overall health of a company.

Investing in employee well-being

Investing in effective employee well-being support isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also strategic, as employee well-being is critical to savvy talent management and retention. Many employers have recognized the connection between benefits solutions that prioritize employee well-being: 75% named employee well-being as their top focus, even before the pandemic hit.[9]

Employees are recognizing the need too, with nearly 75% of employees reporting concerns about at least one aspect of their well-being.[10] Yet employee well-being support currently falls short: nearly two-thirds say their employer could be doing more to support emotional and mental health during and after this period of uncertainty.

Benefits solutions for employee well-being

If the traditional wellness approach is outdated, what should employers consider? For many, it may be time to take a look at their current benefit mix and usage. While a majority (90%) of employers have an employee assistance program (EAP), as few as 3% of employees actually use them.[11]

Benefits solutions that combine targeted coverage and easy access to mental health and well-being support resources across the spectrum of needs can help.

ArmadaCare’s new WellPak is just such a solution. WellPak can layer over any primary healthcare plan and provides insurance coverage as well as support for employees at all levels. It effectively addresses the gaps in and limitations to attaining effective mental health care in traditional employee benefits with boosted coverage in those areas, as well as providing coverage for prescriptions, doctor visits, prescribed massage therapy, acupuncture and more.

Learn more about our wide range of innovative supplemental health insurance plans, which can help employers meet evolving employee needs during this time of uncertainty.

 

[1] National Bureau of Economic Research, 2020

[2] Kaiser Family Foundation, 2020

[3] CDC, 2020

[4] NAMI, 2018

[5] NAMI

[6] American Heart Association, 2020

[7] NAMI

[8] AHA

[9] US MetLife Employee Benefits Trend Study, 2020

[10] BenefitsPro, 2020

[11] AHA, 2020

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