Over the last few years employee wellness strategies have received greater focus from companies and organizations across the world. Wellbeing technology represents a new and growing sector in the employee benefits market, serving as a hub for tools and resources that help employees stay healthy, motivated and productive. It’s an area that is poised to explode into the mainstream, due to the importance companies are placing on preventing non-work related health conditions from arising and developing within their workforces.
The health and wellbeing of employees is becoming more and more important to companies. The right technology can provide the guidance and support needed to achieve healthy living, while reducing health care costs over time.
Why are employee benefits programs important? What are some of the newest, most innovative ways organizations are creating employee wellness programs? Read on to find out more.
What are employee benefits programs
Employees are an organization's most important asset, and the benefits they receive can be monumental in helping them be productive and successful. Circumstances evolve and today, employees want more than just a paycheck. Employee benefit programs are a great way that organizations can show that they care about their employees’ health and wellbeing.
Employee benefits refer to the set of employee benefits and services that the employer offers to all of its employees. Employee benefits programs are provided as a part of their total reward packages to attract and retain top talent. Some of these benefits are required by law, while others are optional and are used by companies as a hiring strategy. Employee benefits programs primarily handle the expense of employee health care coverage and can include different plans that support and benefit employees and their families.
These benefits can be tangible or intangible, monetary or non-monetary.
- Non-monetary benefits: These benefits are provided to employees as services. These include social security, health insurance, educational help, employee discount programs, wellness services, mental health applications, etc.
- Monetary benefits: These benefits are as cash given to employees as a reward for their service to the organization, such as bonuses or incentives.
The best benefits to include are those that are meaningful to employees and will be used by most of them. Knowing what your employees want is a crucial step to designing the right benefits program for your workplace.
Why are they important
While the benefits of promoting health in the workplace are evident, less so are the benefits wellness technology has on overall well-being. Wellness tech often conjures up images of wearable devices or health tracking apps, which have actually evolved at an equal pace as health management itself.
At this intersection of tech and employee wellbeing, there is a great opportunity for improving overall health. Wellness apps can provide a holistic overview of an employee’s health, sharing their wellbeing data at the workplace with their healthcare provider through a platform. The potential is vast, and companies would be wise not to ignore the benefits of wellness tech. Mindfulness can help improve productivity and even retention. The typical full-time employee spends around 40 hours a week at work, and so employers have a duty to help employees take care of their mental health.
Motivating staff to use a meditation app is a simple and effective way for employers to improve feelings of health and wellbeing, as well as improve job performance. As a result of a study to evaluate the effectiveness of mindfulness apps, users said they felt less stressed, more able to cope with life and happier with their job performance. This suggests that organizations can improve their employees’ wellbeing by encouraging and providing access to mindfulness or wellbeing apps.
It’s also important to provide mental health resources. For many employees their health – particularly their mental health – is a private affair and the thought of speaking about issues to an employer can be daunting. Fear of judgment can be a barrier to getting help, especially when dealing with sensitive issues, such as depression, stress, and addiction. So by providing these services as part of employee benefits this may give employees peace of mind and allow them to seek the appropriate help they need. A popular example provided by several organizations to their employees is BetterUp with their BetterUp Care option, a comprehensive mental health solution that is redefining employee engagement, productivity, and business growth.
Another plus is the valuable insight provided by wearables and/ or health related apps. Employee-generated data insights can help companies take a strategic approach to health and wellbeing programmes. Collecting this data and analyzing it alongside sickness absences and health risk assessments can help identify and anticipate trends, leading to early intervention and a healthier and more productive workforce.
How is tech improving employee wellbeing
Technology has changed the dynamic of the workplace, allowing for one-click remote access to everything from emails, conference calls and servers. This has made working life more streamlined but at the same time it has also bred an ‘always on’ working culture, leaving many employees struggling to achieve a work-life balance. This can have implications on the physical and mental health of workers, which, in turn, negatively impacts on absenteeism, productivity, and retention. However when used in the right way technology can help facilitate a healthier and happier workforce.
Health-related technologies, such as wearables, help overcome the barriers to engagement, with as many as one in every two employees already using them to manage their health. According to Willis Towers Watson’s Global Attitudes to Benefits Study 2018 (GBAS), 35% of employees use technology to monitor their activity, such as sleep and fitness; 26% monitor their diet; 22% use social media and online forums on health issues; 17% monitor a health condition; and 16% use online tools for medical consultations, such as telemedicine, virtual GP.
These benefits can encourage employees to take a proactive approach to their health. The ease of accessibility and real-time feedback offered by different platforms puts well being constantly at the forefront of employees’ minds, informing their health-related choices on a day-to-day basis. With health tech the burden is on the individual to take positive action and control of their own wellbeing, rather than being passive recipients of care defined and delivered by healthcare providers. The rise in health awareness levels and the ability to digitally track progress helps motivate employees, encouraging them to achieve their personal health goals.
Examples of top employee health and wellness apps
Mindfulness apps are a great preventative measure when it comes to mental wellbeing. Here are a few health and wellbeing apps to consider introducing to your staff.
Headspace has hundreds of corporate customers including Google, LinkedIn, Starbucks and Monzo, who offer the mindfulness app to their employees as an employee benefit. According to a study by Dr Antonia Dietmann from HM Courts & Tribunals Service, in which 724 employees used meditation app Headspace 5 times a week, participants reported they felt less stressed and that they were happier with their job performance. 80% of participants said they’d recommend the app and 60% continued to use it.
The platform offers one membership for all things fitness, wellness and beauty. You download the app in order to book fitness classes & appointments at the top studios, gyms, salons and spas near you. You can also connect it with HealthKit to keep track of your average heart rate and calorie burn during class. It allows you to work out at home with livestream and on-demand video classes. With ClassPass, your employees decide how to take care of themselves whether that’s breaking a sweat, taking a mindful break or booking a self-care appointment. This results in a happy and healthy work environment inside, and outside the office.
The Calm app aids to improve sleep and relaxation as well as boost mindfulness.
The app includes sleep stories narrated by celebrity and popular figures and has surpassed more than 100 million downloads worldwide.
Calm boasts the most subscribers of any mindfulness app on the market and is constantly adding new content to both its free and premium versions. It includes video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching, audio programs taught by world-renowned mindfulness experts, as well as nature scenes and sounds to enjoy while relaxing, sleeping, working or studying.
Whether it’s sleep or stress employees are struggling with, the Calm app would almost certainly provide a huge boost to your employees’ overall health and wellbeing.
With over 12 million users, Insight Timer is one of the most widely used mindfulness apps on the market. This app contains the most free content of any mediation app on the market, but it also has a premium version that unlocks even more courses and they offer content in 50 languages from experts, psychologists, spiritual leaders and teachers, so that every employee feels like they belong, no matter where they come from.
BetterHelp is the largest therapy platform worldwide. They make professional therapy available anytime, anywhere, through a computer, tablet or smartphone. They have an individual membership but also a business so organizations can provide it to their employees. Each organization gets access to their very own dashboard in which they add/remove members, review monthly utilization reports and billing information.
Wellspace is a global platform, with expert and accessible wellbeing support that provides organizations with the power to lead on workplace wellbeing. The app celebrates employees’ success and commitment to health and wellbeing. It offers 5 key selling points: sleep tracker, mental health tracker, activity tracker, team challenges and a content hub.
Strava is meant to help motivate by tracking workout performance, and showing how to reach specific goals. It also helps people connect with their community, for additional motivation, sharing pictures, routines, trails, and routes. They offer both a free and premium subscription.
This app features an easy-to-use calorie counter that lets users quickly track their meals, snacks, and coffee (or other drinks) intake throughout the day using a database that holds more than 5 million different types of foods. Being able to easily track what you eat throughout the day can help you better balance calorie intake and reach your weight loss goals. They offer both a free and premium subscription.
If wellness initiatives are to be successful, they need to be tailored to the needs of employees at all organizational levels. With this in mind, organizations that employ wellbeing technology will have an edge over their competitors in the coming years, simply by offering more relevant and effective programs to help their employees achieve overall better health outcomes and productivity levels.