Employee Wellness Programs Help Attract and Retain Talent

Workplace wellness and employee wellbeing are top priorities for corporate benefits executives. We highlight current trends, including using wellness benefits to attract and retain talent, how telemedicine is a game-changer, and priorities for employer wellness programs like mental health, financial health, and sleep.

SDLC Partners - Employee Wellness Programs

Workplace Wellness as Competitive Differentiator for Talent

Forty-five percent of employers view their healthcare strategy as an integral part of their workforce strategy, up from 36 percent in 2019. Employers are increasingly approaching employee health and wellness benefits as a competitive advantage in pursuit of talent that can work from anywhere. The degree of support employers provide is being leveraged as a key differentiator in recruiting.

Employers are taking a holistic approach to employee wellness, reflecting the interconnections among physical, nutritional, mental, social, financial, and environmental health. They are using data input from employees to build their plan and focusing effort on digital transformation of the employee healthcare experience, extending from the employer out to the provider and payer.

As more employers become self-funded, they are focusing on prevention to lower chronic disease rates and limit their impact on healthcare and benefits costs. Preventive benefits is boosting the role of workplace wellness. According to the largest systemic global review into the impact of workplace wellness interventions, “Positive Impact of Workplace Health & Well-being Programs” conducted by Cigna, “When properly designed and implemented, most wellness programs yield positive returns by reducing healthcare costs, absenteeism, and delivering productivity gains. Wellness programs with low investment levels often achieve excellent ROI if they are well designed.

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Employee Health Priority Trends

Our trends research highlighted four areas where employers are prioritizing wellness initiatives – behavioral health, financial health, sleep, and social connectedness.

Employee Wellness - Behaviorial Health

Behavioral Health

As 2020 and the pandemic took its toll, it has become paramount for mental health support to take center stage for employers.

According to two studies conducted by the Business Group on Health employees are showing significant interest in using employer-sponsored mental health services like stress management programs, mental health apps, mindfulness, and meditation programs.

Currently, 69% of employers surveyed provide access to online mental health support resources such as apps, videos, and articles. That number is expected to jump to 88% this year.

  • 82% of employers surveyed will offer virtual mental health services, which could grow to 95% by 2022
  • 75% of large US employers plan to provide manager training on how to support employees with behavioral health issues
  • Mental health interventions yield the most significant ROI compared to other types of lifestyle management initiatives 
  • Digital mental health tools for employees are in hot demand as employers look to better support workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Behavior and mental wellness is becoming more of a manager’s concern. Employers are investing in mental health-related leadership training to managers understand and address issues that affect the workplace, the employee’s wellbeing and performance
  • Supporting young employees is also a priority as they are more likely to be stressed, which means higher medical costs for employers, lost productivity, and absenteeism
  • Fostering a resilient workforce is a growing goal. Workplace wellness wants to build a strong and resilient workforce by integrating resiliency training into benefit plans, focus on building holistic wellness strategies and boosting mental health education

88% of employers are expected to provide mental health support in 2021.

Employee Wellness - Financial Health

Financial Health

Employers are considering adding financial wellness programs for all employees since 39% of employees surveyed cite finances as their number one source of stress.

Employee Wellness - Sleep


Seventy-four percent of U.S. workers say they work while tired with 31% saying they do so very often.

According to the CDC, fatigue and poor sleep contribute to productivity losses, costing employers $1,967 per employee per year and adding up to approximately 1.23 million lost working days annually.

55% of workers said they would use a nap room if their employer offered one.

Employee Social Connectedness and Community

Social Connectedness and Community

Employers are beginning to promote more social connectedness and community involvement via employee social and charitable activities as well as time off to give back to the community.

Employee Healthcare Delivery Trends

Employee Heatlh - Telehealth – Telemedicine – Virtual Care

Telehealth – Telemedicine – Virtual Care

Just as all of healthcare accelerated the use of telemedicine in 2020, employers have and will continue to progress their virtual care plans and investments.

  • 51% of employers will expand virtual care programs in 2021
  • 60% of employers who expanded virtual care options in 2020 said they plan to make the changes permanent
  • 80%+ of employer health centers added or increased the use of virtual care options in place of in-person visits

95% of large US Employers are covering telehealth, which is up from 56% in 2016.

Employee Health Centers/On-Site Clinics

Employee Health Centers/On-Site Clinics

On-site clinics continue to grow in popularity with new clinics or service expansions planned. Plus, employers with health centers are looking for ways to reinvent themselves. “Most centers no longer view themselves as a facility to provide merely in-person primary and acute care and now offer additional services, including enhanced virtual care, to complement in-person visits.”

  • 72% of employers have a clinic in place or will by 2023
  • 34% of employers surveyed will offer primary care services at the worksite and an additional 26% will by 2023
  • 46% of employers offer chronic condition management virtually
  • 43% are adding or planning or expanding chronic condition management
  • 30% of employers said they plan to expand remote monitoring
  • 33% offer virtual care navigation
  • 21% offer virtual physical therapy

46% of employers offer chronic condition management virtually.

Employee Healthcare Model Trends

Employee Health - More Self-Insured Employers

More Self-Insured Employers

Self-insured employers play a big role in the U.S. health care system, and the number of mid-sized and smaller employers are taking on more risk at the prospect of improving care and health of their employees while controlling cost.

Employee Health - Advanced Primary Care

Advanced Primary Care

Employee Health - More ACOs & HPNs

More ACOs & HPNs

How should your workplace wellness transform to attract and retain the best talent?

SDLC Partners’ Healthcare Services team works closely with all our other operations, automation, app dev, and technology teams to provide guidance and solutions across the employee wellness continuum of initiatives. From care management to specialized apps to creating a digital front door or implementing a virtual care solution, and automating healthcare administration, we’re poised to jump in.

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