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Employers Investing in Wellness

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are pushing for a return to the office while employees are resisting the return to “normal” and the end of remote work. During the transition, organizations are looking to revamp employee benefits to address the benefits and drawbacks of hybrid work models and surge in healthcare costs. Wellable’s latest Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report examines the key factors influencing decision-making when it comes to corporate wellness vendors.  

The survey identifies 23 of the most popular wellness solutions that employers are investing in throughout 2024. Across all benefits, 45% of respondents expect more investment in 2024, 51% expect the same level of investment, and only 4% expect a decrease in investment. Although a higher rate of respondents (64%) report increased investments in the last year, the focus on employee well-being remains high, with most indicating a commitment to maintaining or increasing current wellness efforts.  

Moving into 2024, financial wellness is no longer a primary focus for benefits as inflation concerns recede and the broader economic situation stabilizes. Still, mental health remains the cornerstone of corporate wellness programs due to its role in enhancing productivity, satisfaction, and well-being. In 2024, most respondents anticipate greater investment in mental health solutions (91%), stress management and resilience (66%), telemedicine (65%), mindfulness and meditation programs (55%), and lifestyle spending accounts (52%).  

A significant portion of respondents anticipate reduced investment in certain wellness areas: 59% expect less investment in on-site fitness classes, 46% in biometric screenings, 41% in free healthy food and stocked kitchens, 33% in health fairs, and 33% in on-demand fitness classes.  

Respondents believe there will be a heightened focus on the proactive management of high-cost health conditions, driven by the potential for long-term savings and improved health outcomes. These include the following.  

  • Weight management: A significant 40% of respondents report an uptick in investments in weight management programs, highlighting the urgency to address obesity and related health risks. While the intention is to encourage lifestyle changes, it’s important to balance this with ethical and medical considerations. This includes patient autonomy, equitable access, and accommodating diverse needs.  
  • Health risk assessments (HRAs): While HRAs have been used for early health risk identification, it’s important to understand their limitations, including potentially outdated information and respondent errors. The number of respondents showing increasing investments in HRAs has more than doubled from 7% to 15%.  
  • Disease management: There’s been a 12% increase in the number of respondents reporting increased investments in disease management programs, from 36% in 2023 to 48% in 2024.  

Respondents say they were influenced to change their benefits due to the rising cost of benefits (86%), staying competitive (64%), matching employer and employee interests (54%), measuring ROI from benefit changes (44%), macroeconomic conditions (41%), DEI (39%), and uncertainty about healthcare reform (8%).  

Further, pricing (89%), flexibility (59%), customer service (50%), reporting (41%), innovation (29%), accessibility (22), and domain expertise (12%) are among the top criteria used by respondents to make their vendor decisions.  

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