‘Integrated’ Well-Being Initiatives Yield Healthy Results

(Story by Stephen Miller originally appeared in SHRM)

Organizations are discovering that a more successful approach to well-being goes beyond an employee’s physical health, according to the March 2015 Total Rewards and Well-Being survey report from survey report from WorldatWork, an association of total rewards professionals.

“Today, we’re seeing more companies create flexible work schedules, introduce financial literacy tools, offer unique child care and elder care assistance programs, and promote stress- and time-management skills,” said Rose Stanley, WorldatWork senior practice leader, in an e-mail to SHRM Online. “All of these integrated approaches encourage a more successful and productive workforce.”

The report analyzes findings from a survey fielded from Dec. 10, 2014, through Jan. 16, 2015, with underwriting support from HealthMine, a wellness technology firm.

Among the survey respondents (made up of WorldatWork members at mostly large North American companies), 39 percent said their organizations are operating with an integrated approach to overall well-being as opposed to a more traditional wellness program approach. Additionally:

  • The measured effect on health care costs is more likely to be rated as extremely positive or positive at integrated well-being organizations (73 percent) vs. traditional wellness organizations (53 percent).
  • The measured effect on employee satisfaction is more likely to be rated as extremely positive or positive at integrated well-being organizations (77 percent) vs. traditional wellness organizations (68 percent).
  • Higher turnover rates are more common at traditional wellness organizations (52 percent) vs. integrated well-being organizations (39 percent).


top 5 well being elements - ‘Integrated’ Well-Being Initiatives Yield Healthy Results
Source: WorldatWork Total Rewards and Well-Being survey report


In addition, a majority of respondents said they would still continue to offer well-being programs even if at some point employer-sponsored health care was no longer provided by their company; 95 percent of respondents said they would keep workplace safety programs, 92 percent would continue to encourage time away from work and flexible schedules, and 90 percent would preserve their employee assistance programs (EAPs).

Well-Being Benefits Help Improve Employee Engagement

Here’s another view of how well-being benefits affect employee engagement and performance, based on findings from wellness program provider Limeade, partnering with Quantum Workplace, a workplace survey firm. Their March 2015 report, Workplace Well-Being: Provide Meaningful Benefits to Energize Employee Health, Engagement, and Performance, analyzed feedback from nearly 2,000 employee responses. Among the highlights:

Engagement drivers and detractors:

 Satisfaction. Engagement is lower when employees are less satisfied with their benefits. More than three-fourths of “engaged” employees said they were satisfied with the health and well-being benefits their organization provides, compared to fewer than half of “hostile” employees.

 Communication and clarity. Employees who are unsure if they have benefits are twice as likely to be disengaged compared to those who understand the benefits offered to them.

What employees want vs. what employees get:

 Stress management. Only 28 percent of employers provide stress-relief breaks, such as meditation, massages, or required breaks, yet more than 71 percent of employees desire it.

 Nutrition. More than 73 percent of employees want healthy cafeteria or vending options at work, but fewer than half of employers provide it.

 Physical fitness. Regular exercise -three times a week or more – has little to no direct impact on employee engagement. Yet half of employees want an onsite fitness center and time for healthy activities at work.

 Financial wellness. Employees 25 years old and younger are nearly twice as likely to prefer financial planning services, compared to employees 56 years old and older.

 Work-life balance. Nearly three-fourths of employees want flexible work hours, and those who do are nearly 20 percent more engaged. However, fewer than half of employers provide flexible work hours.