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Employee Wellness Programs Undergo Revolutionary Shift

As wellness programs take more innovative approaches that incorporate physical, mental, and financial health, advisers can stand to gain by connecting plan sponsors with the most innovative providers.

By Javier Simon | January 05, 2017
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As health care costs continue to rise and financial insecurity becomes a leading stressor for thousands of Americans, employers are now taking a more holistic approach to developing wellness programs. According to a recent survey by provider Virgin Pulse, 76% of employers now offer wellness programs that address physical, mental, and financial health.

Although the financial piece is a relatively new component of total wellness programs, it may be long overdue. In an interview with PLANADVISER, Travis Freeman, CFP, President of Four Seasons Financial Education, revealed some yet-to-be-published survey findings on the impact of financial stress on health.

The company found that 66% of employees who had high levels of financial stress reported feeling depressed, compared with only 17% for those with low levels. Among the group with high levels of financial stress, 72% reported anxiety, 46% reported sleeplessness, and 25% reported memory loss. The latest employee financial-wellness survey by PricewaterhouseCoppers reflects these results finding that 52% of employees reported financial insecurity. Twenty-eight percent said it was affecting their health, and another 28% said it was a distraction at work.

Clearly, there is room for improvement in addressing employees’ financial wellness. In turn, this can have a positive impact on employee well-being, employer health care costs, and a company’s return on investment (ROI). But, how can employers create these holistic wellness programs while justifying their costs and measuring their impact?

NEXT: Using technology and employee satisfaction