Looking to Improve Retention? These 15 Wellness Offerings May Do the Trick.

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans has surveyed benefits practitioners about their workplace wellness initiatives for more than a decade. Over this period, benefits have evolved from time-tested offerings like physical fitness, nutrition and health-screening initiatives to include mental and behavioral health, financial well-being, and offerings designed to target worker growth and individual purpose. Workplace Wellness and Financial Education Programs: 2022 Survey Results took a deep dive into wellness initiatives as well as organizational status and approach, communication methods, incentives, the use of data/metrics and outcomes.

Respondents stated that their wellness initiatives are relatively successful at improving organizational retention. More than three in four (76%) survey respondents noted that their offerings were either very (12%) or somewhat (62%) effective, while the remaining 24% stated that they were not.

Differentiating between these groups (effective and not effective) allows us to do a deeper analysis of their wellness benefit offerings. What the groups with effective retention efforts doing differently? What initiatives are they significantly more likely to offer?

Let’s take a look . . .

Financial Education

  • Organizations that cited effectiveness in improving organizational retention were substantially more likely than those who did not cite effectiveness to offer personal financial education services for a fee.
  • These organizations were also more likely to offer emergency hardship assistance provided by the organization.
  • Rounding out the financial education category, companies “effective” at retention were more likely to offer online courses.

Fitness/Nutrition

  • Fitness and nutrition offerings have a substantial impact on organizational retention efforts. Organizations that cited effective organizational retention were more likely to offer healthy food choices in their cafeteria or vending machines.
  • Successful respondents were substantially more likely to encourage activity/exercise breaks during work hours.
  • Organizations offering fitness and nutrition initiatives that cited a successful impact on retention were more likely to host on-site offerings, including on-site exercise classes and walking trails/paths/loops.

Social/Community Health

  • The COVID-19 pandemic and the onset of remote work made it more difficult to create initiatives designed to improve social and community health. Looking to make this a point of emphasis? Respondents finding retention success were more likely to host game leagues than organizations that are not finding success.
  • Successful organizations were also more likely to organize team-building activities.

Mental/Behavioral Health

  • Mental and behavioral health became a point of emphasis in the face of COVID-19–related challenges. Responding organizations that cited retention success were substantially more likely to offer a resiliency training program. According to the Mayo Clinic, this training focuses on four areas, including emotional, physical, cognitive and mental, and spiritual resilience. Training in these areas can improve your resiliency, enhance your quality of life, and decrease your stress and anxiety by teaching you to view life’s inevitable challenges as opportunities.
  • Similarly, successful organizations were more likely to offer gratitude/appreciation journals/initiatives in the workplace.
  • Respondents finding retention success were more likely to offer mental health first aid/crisis training. This training is designed to identify and help individuals who may be developing a mental health problem or are in a mental health crisis.
  • Organizations that cited effectiveness in improving organizational retention were substantially more likely to offer stress-management programs.

Worker Growth/Individual Purpose

  • The final wellness initiative group is aimed at improving worker growth and individual purpose. Responding organizations that cite retention success were more likely to offer student loan repayment programs.
  • Not surprisingly, successful organizations were more likely to offer leadership opportunities outside job hierarchy structure via teams, committees or councils.

Are your wellness initiatives leading to increased retention? What methods are you employing?

Justin Held, CEBS
Senior Research Analyst at the International Foundation 

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