The idea of promoting health and wellness in the workplace was taking hold even before the pandemic hit. However, the onset of COVID-19 made health and wellness a priority for both workers and employers. While there’s no denying that many employers have taken steps to provide their employees additional health and wellness support during the pandemic, it appears that there is still more work to do.

According to our recent survey that we conducted with Ipsos, only 40% of white and blue-collar workers are satisfied with the level of health and wellness support their employers offer. Women working in blue-collar positions are most likely to be dissatisfied with these offerings, with only 34% currently satisfied with their employer’s health and wellness policies and programs.

Most employers already understand just how important health and wellness is, especially in a post-pandemic workplace. Many, unfortunately, still struggle to visualize what this type of support actually looks like and how to offer these perks realistically in a way that positively impacts the lives of their workers.

With markets starting to open and workers heading back to the workplace, now is the time for employers to re-evaluate their health and wellness offerings to ensure they align with workers’ expectations. This article takes a closer look at what an effective health and wellness plan looks like as well as an in-depth look at the types of support workers want.

wellness: there’s more to it than a subsidized gym membership

Prior to the pandemic, employers may have been able to satisfy their workers with just a subsidized gym membership. The effects of COVID-19 on workers’ physical and mental health, however, have shifted employees’ needs and expectations. While gym membership subsidies are great for many employees, this type of perk only addresses physical wellbeing.

The good news is that there are many other perks employers can offer to create a more balanced wellness program that focuses not only on physical health, but on mental health and financial support as well. Here’s a look at the top health and wellness support options employees want. Offering more rounded wellness support can help to ease the burden the pandemic placed on your employees and work to alleviate some of their stress.

annual health credits

Gym memberships subsidies remain one of the most popular health and wellness perks offered by employers and are typically received very well by employees. In fact, according to our survey, both blue and white-collar workers rank annual health credits, such as gym membership subsidies, as the most important health and wellness benefit.  So, it’s not that your employees don’t want a simple gym membership. It’s just that they’re also looking for other annual health credit options.

For example, access to telehealth and virtual mental health services can make it more convenient for employees to obtain the extra support they need, when they need it. Other perks, such as online wellness platforms, virtual wellness workshops, health coaching and access to digital fitness platforms, can provide the extra support employees desire as they head back into the workplace.

office subsidies

The research is clear: office workers who predominantly worked from home during the pandemic want to continue working remotely, at least on a part-time basis. When the pandemic hit, many of these workers were forced to create makeshift home offices that were meant to be temporary. As the shift to remote or hybrid work models appears to be a lasting possibility, these same workers will now need to create a more permanent work area in their homes.

Employers can help these employees create an effective home office area by providing a yearly home office allowance that covers a variety of expenses, such as set-up, supplies, internet costs and printing. According to our survey, this type of support is exactly what employees want. In fact, white-collar workers ranked a home office yearly allowance as the second most important health and wellness perk they look for in a job offer.

mental health support

The fears, anxiety and extra pressures brought on by the pandemic have undoubtedly affected the mental health of workers across the globe. Unfortunately, these added stressors can affect productivity, quality, absenteeism and overall worker satisfaction. This connection between workers' mental health and workplace performance has caused many employers to provide extra mental health supportive services, such as virtual counseling services, mental health training and wellness workshops.

Not only does our survey show that just over 30% of both white and blue-collar workers consider mental health supportive services an impactful part of an employer’s overall benefits package, but offering on-demand mental health support services can improve production rates, reduce turnover and increase job satisfaction across the board.

complementary healthy snacks

Millions of workers across the country admit to gaining weight during the pandemic. With workplaces starting to reopen, many of these same workers want to return to healthier eating habits. You can help these employees shed these unwanted pounds, meet their weight loss goals and develop healthy eating habits by providing an array of complimentary healthy snacks during the day.

This one step alone can help employees jumpstart their goals to eat healthier, improve production rates and boost the satisfaction level of your workers.

financial planning

One in four blue-collar workers and nearly one in five white-collar workers want their employers to offer some type of financial planning services. What this type of benefits looks like may vary greatly from employer to employer, but can include anything from financial planning workshops to access to a session with a financial planner.

This type of support can help employees learn how to maximize their earnings by creating a budget, setting financial goals and developing a robust retirement plan. Ultimately, helping employees gain control over their finances can help to reduce stress and boost performance on the job.

transportation and commuter services

While remote or hybrid work models are a great option for some workers, the reality is that not all job roles can be completed remotely. Employers should consider offering workers who have to come to the workplace every day some type of commuter assistance, such as developing carpool opportunities, organizing employer-sponsored transportation options or offering transportation allowances or subsidies. This type of support is especially important to blue-collar workers, of which 20% consider it an important health and wellness perk.

online activities

Even with more and more employers inviting workers back into the workplace, many people are still hesitant to go into crowded public spaces, such as the local gym. For these workers, subsidies for a local gym membership will be pointless, at least for now. This factor doesn’t mean that employers can’t still offer their employees access to fitness opportunities. It just means that they have to think outside the box. Instead of, or in addition to, a gym membership, employers can give employees access to online fitness programs that include everything from yoga and dancing to aerobics and strength training. This perk can help employees stay physically fit from the comfort of their own homes.

Adding numerous health and wellness perks to your employee benefits package can not only improve productivity and employee satisfaction, but can also ensure your company remains competitive in the job market in the upcoming years.

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