Brokers

As employee burnout and stress rise, benefits brokers beg employers to offer actionable solutions

As employees increasingly sound the alarm for more mental health support, employers are listening and have big plans for 2022. But will those plans translate into action?

Ninety-percent of employers are increasing their investments in mental health programs, according to research from Wellable Labs, the research division of wellness platform, Wellable. For this year’s research, Wellable Labs surveyed 197 health insurance brokers in order to gain a better understanding of the future of employee well-being in a post-COVID world. Seventy-two percent of brokers say their employer clients who are investing in greater well-being benefits will do so completely or mostly virtually.

In 2022, employers will continue to focus on virtual solutions like on-demand fitness classes, health education and literacy, health coaching and health fairs. Telemedicine is also expected to get a big boost this year, according to the research, as 80% of employers say they plan to increase investments in this service.

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“The global pandemic accelerated the uptake of digital solutions, specifically among employees, but it also sparked this massive innovation in the digital health space,” says Brighid Sullivan, director of Wellable Labs. “Employees love the on-demand experience where they can access information anytime, with the flexibility of wherever they’d like to be.”

But getting these necessary benefits into the hands of employees is still a struggle for many organizations. Only 1% of the brokers surveyed by Wellable said they believe their clients have a strong understanding of how well employees are managing chronic workplace stress.

The pandemic has kept mental health at the forefront of the conversation, yet employees have continued to struggle. Over the course of the last year, more than a third of adults say they’ve been experiencing an increase in depressive symptoms, according to the Wellable Labs study, and there has also been a 21% increase in burnout and a 17% increase in physical symptoms of stress due to the pandemic.

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In order to take action, brokers and employers need to work together on a strategy that includes solutions like access to digital wellness tools, providing flexible schedules, reorganizing meetings and offering alternative resources that focus on mindfulness to better support their employees.

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These combined efforts can give employees the whole person support they need to overcome challenges both at work and at home. This support network can help them through the unknowns of 2022 and beyond, Sullivan says.

“Employees are now demanding that organizations provide resources that move beyond just the traditional focus of physical activity and really support the whole person,” she says. “Wellness is no longer seen as a perk, but rather as a key foundational piece to successful businesses. Now there’s really no turning back.”

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