This comprehensive report investigates and quantifies the wellness strategies companies are implementing in 2022. The survey explored three key areas: (i) investment trends, (ii) decision influencers, and (iii) vendor criteria. This year, the report also includes special sections dedicated to burnout, mental health, financial wellness, and caregiving as well as reviews five years of data to reveal long-term trends.
Download the full report for a comprehensive analysis of the results.
The survey identified 25 specific wellness programs and strategies, such as stress management, gym membership reimbursement, and telemedicine, that employers may be considering investing in during the year. Respondents were asked whether they expect their employer clients to invest less, the same, or more in the associated programs. Across all the benefits included in this survey, an average of 35% plan to spend more in 2022, 43% plan to invest the same, and 22% plan to invest less. As wellness programs become more popular and the rising cost of benefits pushes employers of all sizes to offer comprehensive and competitive benefits, employers will continue to invest more in these programs.
For 2022, the benefits that will attract larger investments from the greatest proportion of employers include mental health (90%), telemedicine (80%), stress management and resilience (76%), mindfulness and meditation (71%), and COVID-19 vaccine programs (57%). With three out of five rising stars closely linked to mental health, companies are clearly focusing on supporting employees in this area.
In addition to focusing on employee mental health, companies are also investing in telemedicine to increase access to affordable health care as well as continue to respond to COVID-19 and address regulatory requirements. As such, employers are planning to invest heavily in COVID-19 vaccine programs and complement them with other COVID-19 risk reduction strategies.
Employers appear to be moving away from benefits that depend on in-person interactions, even with COVID-19 prevention measures in place. This is largely due to the availability of alternative solutions that satisfy the same wellness goals. As a result, on-site fitness classes (63%), health fairs (59%), free healthy food/stocked kitchens (54%), biometric screenings (50%), and on-site clinics (35%) all ranked the highest in terms of the percentage of employers expecting to invest less.
Companies have been decreasing their investments in benefits with scientifically questionable efficacy (e.g., biometric screenings). As organizations seek to develop more scientifically-informed and experimentally-backed wellness solutions, these offerings are likely to become less and less popular.
While several factors have impacted the investment trends mentioned above, preferences for particular delivery methods appear to explain many of the observed changes. Across all companies, 95% of employers will have at least some of their benefits delivered digitally. From this insight, it is clear that employers have become increasingly comfortable with digital solutions and plan to rely on them going forward.
Due to pandemic-related stressors, burnout is becoming an increasingly common workplace ailment. Mental health resources and flexible work schedules are the most frequently used anti-burnout solutions, listed as a top three choice by 86% and 73% of brokers, respectively.
Mental health has remained a dominant concern for employers over the past several years. The most popular solutions are employee assistance programs (62%), digital health tools (46%), and educational resources (43%).
By and large, organizations are looking for cost-effective, flexible, and scalable solutions, which is why educational resources (84%), digital finance tools (70%), and retirement planning (56%) are the most popular new offerings.
In response to the growing needs of caregivers, several organizations are providing additional offerings to support them in the workplace. The most popular add-ons are flexible work schedules (62%), remote work (58%), and caregiver-provider referral services (40%).
Several benefits have consistently drawn increasing investment amounts from a large proportion of employers
over the past five years. Financial wellness, telemedicine, and mental health related benefits made their
way onto the Rising Stars list for three, four, and five years respectively.
Other benefits have seen decreasing investments for several years. Fitness-related benefits appeared in the Falling Giants List every year. Following close behind are biometric screenings and health fairs.
Over the past five years, a sizable proportion of employers have been significantly influenced by two
factors that stand in contention with one another: (i) the need to create a competitive benefits plan and
(ii) the rising cost of benefits. The desire to match employer and employee interests has remained strong as
well, influencing 63% to 70% of employers.
The effect that uncertainty over health care reform has had on the benefits decisions of organizations has continued to diminish since the first report was released. The proportion of companies who reported being minimally influenced by this consideration rose from 20% in 2018 to 48% in 2022.
For the fifth year in a row, pricing is the top criteria when evaluating vendors. Flexibility and
customizability follow closely behind with a peak of 64% and a five-year average of 60%.
Domain expertise and customer testimonials have remained at the bottom of the pack. At its most popular, domain expertise was a top-three criteria for only 10% of employers. Customer testimonials hold even less sway, being a top consideration for just 3% of employers in four of the past five years.
When available, the report showcased five years of historical data. The gradual year-over-year trends provide useful context for the drastic changes brought on by the pandemic. To take a deeper dive into the data, please download the full report.