Top 5 Trends Impacting Well-Being Benefits Decisions
Published June 17, 2021 by Archetype Solutions Group
10 min read
We recently convened a group of leading health and benefits brokers and our inaugural cohort of Well-Being Trailblazers to discuss the future of work and how to support clients in leading healthy, resilient lives! If you don’t already know, the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) and Archetype Solutions Group have teamed up to award the nation’s most innovative worksite well-being companies as 2021 Well-Being Trailblazers.
In this session, the Trailblazers and brokers discussed pressing employer needs for well-being solutions. Below we’ve summarized the top five influential trends impacting employers’ health and well-being benefits decisions from the roundtable discussion.
Want to get to know our 2021 Well-Being Trailblazers? Don’t miss our awards ceremony July 14th at 2pm EST, where you can vote for your favorite to win a People’s Choice Award! Save your spot now.
1 – COVID-19 LED TO A WELL-BEING WAKE-UP CALL
Any leader in the well-being space can tell you that, for the last several years, the topic often fell on deaf ears. Getting employers to prioritize well-being benefits and resources was difficult to do. It was very validating for our Trailblazers to hear from the brokers that they often experienced much of the same up until this past year. According to them, the pandemic awakened almost every single employer to the need for well-being solutions. Now, they are consistently fielding questions and having much more in-depth discussions about how to provide the best possible resources. This is resulting in a paradigm shift in the approach to benefit plan design that goes beyond addressing COVID-19. Brokers are encouraging clients to allow for flexibility in their benefit plans, as every employee has different needs.
Many employers are now seeking custom plans that provide support for all stages of life—from family planning to menopause to caregiving and more.
2 – LEADERSHIP TRAINING IS A TOP ASK
Employers now recognize that it takes a shift in culture to really make a meaningful impact for employees – you need buy-in from leadership in order to create change. As the focus on well-being solutions increases, employers are seeking leadership training and guidance for culture change.
To do that they are looking for resources that can teach their managers and other leaders to become wellness ambassadors.
Our broker panel shared that the solutions that are picking up the most steam are the ones that provided resiliency and emotional intelligence training along with robust communication strategies for the managers and leaders. Employees have expressed an increased need and appreciation for managers checking in directly on their well-being in the past year, which highlights the importance of leaders’ emotional intelligence and empathic skills.
3 – EMPLOYERS ARE MORE INTENTIONAL WITH BENEFITS DESIGN
In a massive shift, employers are now beginning to look at well-being as a core part of their benefits. Where previously well-being solutions may have been a “nice to have” or an add-on benefit, employers are now trying to structure offerings so that well-being sits front and center. The brokers shared that their clients are interested in the following options:
- Single sign-on capabilities
- Collaboration with other vendors
- Billing through carriers
Our brokers shared that one large complaint from employees is that there are too many apps that they need to remember, so being able to sync with another vendor adds a lot of value. While employees want all of the technology and benefits, they don’t want to juggle multiple apps and logins. As wellness continues to come to the forefront of the benefits landscape, employers will be looking for options that are easily integrated and implemented. For example, a wellness solution that is integrated with an insurance carrier has a big appeal to employers.
4 – LACK OF VALIDATION IS A NON-STARTER
Employers are designing their offerings with more scrutiny. Those that are self-funded are looking for custom plans that include reporting as a standard practice. Brokers shared that clients want consistent data that shows returns. They want to know how a solution is impacting productivity, presenteeism, absenteeism, and the impact on the business. For well-being solutions, it can take time to capture data like this, so employers are also seeking engagement and retention rates, and soft data like positive employee feedback.
According to the brokers, employers are trying to be more strategic with their budget allocation and are looking for vendors who can promise results. That is why many of them prefer health and wellness vendors who are willing to do ‘fees-at-risk’ models and ‘per-engaged-employee’ (charging by utilization rather than eligibility) payment structures. They expect the solution provider to deliver results, and many well-being providers are confident enough in their solution to promise results, so this type of model gives employers the extra assurance they need to sign on for a wellness benefit that should ultimately be a win-win for everyone.
5 – THE GIG ECONOMY AND INCLUSIVITY MATTER
The pandemic has caused a surge in contract employment. Currently, more than one-third of U.S. workers participate in the gig economy. With this significant and growing population of contractors in the workplace, employers must now begin to think about how they can expand their benefits strategies to be more inclusive of workers who are not traditional full-time employees.
While our broker panel sees the gig economy as a large ship on the horizon, helping employers make diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a priority in their plan design and communications is something that will make well-being providers stand out right now. After all, DEI is a core part of employee well-being at work. By teaching employers more about it and providing inclusive solutions, a well-being solution provider can become their trusted resource.
BONUS: 2022 AND BEYOND…
2020 and 2021 so far have been about triage care and responding to the needs of employees. However, the brokers shared that employers are finally starting to look at long-term plans. They are working out what benefits their organization will need to support them through 2022 and beyond. Tele-medical solutions were a good test case for how we can offer more convenient and personalized solutions that meet employees where they are. Solution providers need to be able to continue anticipating and meeting the changing needs of the workforce. Looking ahead, every provider should be looking to create more custom, inclusive, and proactive resources for employees and employers.