Why Companies are Rethinking “Workplace Wellness”

Today, many organizations are starting to take a broader view of wellness at work—one that includes not just physical but emotional, social and even financial health

daughter helping dad get ready for work

Say “workplace wellness” and the first thing that probably comes to mind are the ways employers encourage their employees to stay physically healthy: Exercise and weight loss incentives, lunch rooms stocked with healthy snacks, flu shots and biometric screenings. Here are just a few examples of how many organizations, with help from their health insurance plans, are starting to take a broader view of wellness at work.

Mindfulness and meditation

The benefits of meditation are becoming increasingly well documented and understood.

Regular meditation can decrease anxiety and stress, increase positive emotions and enhance productivity1

Some employers are bringing the benefits of meditation to their workplaces by buying subscriptions to meditation apps for employees, providing training in mindfulness and meditation, or offering daily morning meditation sessions.

Resources for working parents

For parents of young children, scrambling to find child care if the usual caregiver is unavailable or school is cancelled unexpectedly, can be a major source of stress. Some workplaces are making an extra effort to be family-friendly with benefits like on-site backup childcare, paid leave for taking care of sick children, and flexible scheduling.

Recovery-friendly workplaces

In today’s competitive job marketplace, some companies try to lure young employees with things like beer on tap or weekly on-site happy hours. But while those perks may be appealing to many potential employees, they may be just the opposite for people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Employers can show their commitment to supporting their employees in recovery by limiting alcohol consumption to certain times or places, offering benefits like on-site peer support groups and online addiction care, planning substance-free outings and activities, and providing education about addiction and recovery to the entire workplace.

Making behavioral health more accessible

In spite of the many gains that have been made when it comes to destigmatizing mental health issues, many people are still hesitant to seek out therapy or other forms of mental health care, out of embarrassment or shame. Some employers are trying to make mental health more accessible and acceptable with lunch-and-learns about mental health, paid mental health days, and options like telemedicine that make it easier and more private for employees to get therapy.

Promoting financial wellbeing

Employers who offer 401K plans as part of their benefits package generally provide some retirement planning guidance. But day-to-day financial matters are a significant source of worry for employees.

Up to 71% of American workers reporting that their top source of stress is personal finances2

In response, some employers are offering benefits like financial planning lunch-and-learn sessions, tuition assistance/scholarships, and emergency loans.

Fostering social wellness

Communicating with others has never been easier, thanks to text, email and social media, and yet rates of reported loneliness in the US have doubled over the past 50 years.3 Loneliness can have a detrimental impact on workplace productivity, job satisfaction and even physical wellbeing. Some employers are responding to the “loneliness epidemic” by offering social activities ranging from book groups to bowling nights to company outings to pot-luck lunches, to help minimize the sense of isolation employees feel as workplace communication becomes increasingly digital.

A holistic approach to workplace wellness not only benefits employees, but employers too. By helping employees enhance their physical, social and emotional wellbeing, employers can help control health care costs, reduce absenteeism, and foster a positive and productive workplace culture that attracts and retains talent.

Your health plan can work with you to build a comprehensive wellness plan that fits your organization's needs and employee population

Read more about the worksite wellness programs and resources offered by Tufts Health Plan.

  1. 20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today: Psychology Today, Sep 11, 2013
  2. Financial Wellness at Work: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, August 2014
  3. Work and the Loneliness Epidemic: Harvard Business Review, September 2017