Employee Well-being: Caring for the Whole Employee

Benefit Trends Executive Health December 3, 2020

The ongoing challenges of the pandemic have forward-thinking employers actively acknowledging that business continuity and recovery are closely tied to employee health. Supporting employee well-being is key moving forward. Here is what recent research says about the historically unprecedented stress of this period and the value of addressing employee health.

Employee health has suffered

Across all industries and employee levels, employers are recognizing the effects of increased levels of stress on their employees and the subsequent consequences.

Surveys have shown that two-thirds of adults reported feeling anxious or an inability to stop worrying. [1] Three-quarters of workers expressed concern over at least one aspect of their well-being as a result of the pandemic. [2]

Nearly 20% of workers believe their mental health has taken a hit since the onset of COVID, a fourfold increase from pre-pandemic levels. [3] While many are clearly struggling, just half of workers reported they had access to effective emotional support to cope at work. [4]

Even before the pandemic, the effects of increasing stressors posed a threat to employee health. with three-quarters of employers planning to prioritize stress reduction in 2020. [5] The increasingly blurred lines between work and home and an always-on culture contribute to rising levels of employee stress. In other words, the crises of 2020 unfolded over a foundation of already deteriorating employee well-being.

Why support employee well-being?

In this new reality, it’s essential for employers to recognize that employee well-being matters. According to research, companies that offer holistic support will be better positioned to navigate future challenges, protect their talent and support performance—at both the individual and business levels. [6]

Poor employee health comes at a high cost. Mental health issues are, in fact, the leading cause of illness and disability for US adults. [7] Nearly two-thirds of workers contending with a mental health issue may not tell their employers, [8] and mental health issues can drive up absenteeism and presenteeism (when an employee is present but not productive).

Clearly, employers must prioritize employee well-being; otherwise, they risk potentially jeopardizing employee health as well as business continuity and recovery in moving forward. A truly effective approach, though, is about far more than increased sick days and PTO. It requires taking a holistic approach to employee well-being.

Four components of employee well-being

A whole-person approach to employee well-being must address four key components: mental, financial, social and physical health.

Mental health encompasses psychological and emotional well-being so that employees can manage their stress, anxiety and other mental health issues in order to focus at work and home—and ensure high performance in their roles.

Financial health is about personal and family financial security.

Social health concerns the ability to form and sustain healthy relationships with friends, colleagues and family.

Physical health is related to chronic or acute illness and injury as well as, in general, a healthy lifestyle.

How to care for the whole employee

A multi-dimensional benefits approach to whole-person health can help employers meet the diverse and evolving needs of their workforce during and after this time. According to research, it can also help employees feel more valued: employee well-being and engagement increase when it’s clear that employer leadership prioritizes physical and mental health. [9] Here is what supporting the whole employee with a new approach to health benefits looks like:

Address Financial Health

  • Through tax-efficient† compensation
  • By reducing the high out-of-pocket spending created by gaps in primary healthcare plan coverage

Support Emotional Health

  • By providing effective and accessible support and coverage for mental health, including resources to navigate to the right care
  • With coverage for wellness treatments like prescribed massage therapy and acupuncture

Care for Social Health

  • By recognizing, rewarding and incentivizing performance
  • By encouraging healthier work/life balance

Protect Physical Health

  • With access to the right care and coverage to help employees afford routine and unexpected healthcare expenses

Embracing holistic employee health represents a shift for some employers, but it’s a strategic move as we move toward recovery in 2021.

ArmadaCare’s supplemental health insurance solutions can help employers support employee well-being now and in the future. With an array of plans for employees at every level and benefit budgets of all sizes, employers can enhance benefits while managing healthcare plan costs. Learn more about our products.

This is not local, state or federal tax advice as each person and company is unique. It is recommended that you seek the independent counsel of a professional tax adviser.

[1] Science Daily, 2020

[2] MetLife Annual Employee Benefit Trends Survey, 2020

[3] Flexjobs and MHA Survey, 2020

[4] Flexjobs, 2020

[5] MetLife, 2020

[6] MetLife, 2020

[7] JAMA, 2019

[8] Leaders Edge, 2020

[9] JAMA, 2019

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