Making rewards more rewarding…

14 january 2019

Unemployment rates are at an all-time low and organizations are now offering more robust benefits programs to attract and retain talent. The corporate wellness industry is constantly evolving, and savvy HR and wellness professionals need to stay on top of emerging trends to ensure their employee wellness program continues to advance. That’s why, for this week’s #ConnectWithContent, we dove into the trends emerging in the corporate wellness world today that are likely to affect wellness programs in 2019.
Here are some thoughts to get you started….

What does your workforce (really!) want?

Before you dig into benefits offerings , make time to talk to your workforce about what’s working and what isn’t. Try to find some trends in employees’ benefits usage to figure out where you can make improvements. 
Talk to benefits brokers as well about what’s available for employees and what steps you can take to amplify your benefits messaging and connect employees with the most relevant benefits at your organization.

It’s the culture (again!),stupid…

No use in offering gym memberships, yoga and meditation classes if you don’t give people adequate time  to take advantage of the offerings due to  intense work schedules.

Wellness programs won’t work unless you create a culture in which it is acceptable
and encouraged to prioritize self-care. 

When you do, however, the results are profound. According to this article published in Harvard Business Review, wellness programs don’t work unless you create a culture in which it is acceptable and encouraged to prioritize self-care. When you do, however, the results are profound: self-care can help prevent burnout from work, help manage stress, and boost feelings of self-worth and confidence. During a busy work week, or in the throes of an important project, it’s easy to lose sight of what really drives employee well-being. 

The best leaders are able to take a step back and maintain a human touch in the workplace
by inspiring employees, being kind to them, and encouraging them to take care of themselves

Beyond common practices and old school benchmarking...

It’s not that rewards are not important for today’s workforce. It’s that the rewards being offered today aren’t necessarily meaningful to them and at the same time organizations aren’t seeing enough return on their investment: there’s no boost in worker engagement or retention, nor upticks in their employment brand. 
So, if organizations want to make rewards more rewarding for their (future) workforce, they will have to move beyond common practices and the old standard “proof” of competitiveness benchmarking and evolve towards more novel types of rewards.

Of course you need to pay a competitive wage, and of course you need to have foundational benefit programs but more is not always better.  According to this article , posted by Melanie Langsett, Garry Spinks, and Naomi Bradley on January 9, 2019 and shared on Human Resources Today  ( true differentiation and competitive advantage comes from having carefully curated rewards based on understanding what’s important to your workforce, rather than based on what other organizations are offering. 

Today’s workers are looking for a relationship with an organization.

That’s why organizations should offer a personalized, flexible, and customized experience, set on a firm foundation of compensation and benefits, but differentiated by other programs that are specifically meaningful to them, including things like recognition, career development, and a holistic approach to well-being.

High-performing organizations are communicating about rewards in a more holistic and targeted way, rather than a fractured approach and they understand how to treat their workforce in a more consumer-like manner. No more “set it and forget it” programs in other words: organizations need to keep their workforce involved in shaping their wellness offering by asking what resources are most important to them. Read the entire article if you want to learn what else these companies are doing differently, compared to their lower-performing counterparts. 

Browsing the internet we distilled these 7 employee benefits trends to watch:
It’s personal!
Every employee faces challenges, but every employee needs and expects different solutions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the corporate wellness industry by creating a more personalized experience for employees. By leveraging data, wellness programs will also be able to create a better user experience based on the employee’s preferences and wellness goals.
If your company does not have the budget to invest hugely in technology, personalization can also be accomplished by simply asking for employee feedback. Employees expect direct and individualized communication about their benefits and how those benefits can make an impact in their own lives.

Alternative ways to pay for healthcare 
Healthcare costs per employee continue to rise, with 2019 being the most expensive year yet for employers offering health insurance to their organization. To counteract some of these rising costs, insurers and employers are looking for alternative ways to pay for healthcare.

Beyond a basic benefits package
Employees  expect access to voluntary benefits year-round, not just during open enrollment periods, that can help them address specific needs. Employers should focus their attention on offering platforms that can connect employees with voluntary benefits outside of just healthcare or a retirement plan.

Benefits Over Salary
In the most competitive job market in over a decade, employees have more choices than ever and are in a position of power when the interview process leads to a job offer.
Benefits offerings and employee wellbeing will take precedence over salary negotiations and employers need to make sure they’re thinking outside the box with benefits like tuition reimbursement, work-from-home days, and financial education. Emphasis is also on improving mental health and other invisible illnesses such as cancer, migraines, infertility, multiple sclerosis,... 

Prioritizing Self-care
Apple recently announced its “best of 2018” and listed self-care as the trend of the year. More people now realize that self-care is now essential, not an indulgence. One dimension of self-care that has definitely been on the rise in the workplace is mindfulness practices. It's being offered at some of the world’s biggest companies to cut workplace stress and boost productivity.

Self-care will continue to seep into the corporate wellness world as more employers
prioritizing holistic wellness and that’s good news. 

Sleep as a strategic resource
You can encourage people to take more care by offering them opportunities to exercise, offering them breaks from work, relaxation practices. More strict boundaries between work and home can also reduce job stress and increase employee well-being and engagement. 
And don’t forget the importance of sleep as pointed out in this article we found on sloan MIT. 

A well-rested staff is a happier and higher-performing one. 

So encourage employees to exercise, take breaks, and get better rest. You might even want to follow the example of some German companies and forbid off-hours email except in emergencies, or give employees exercise- and sleep-monitoring devices, such as Fitbits.  And don’t forget to walk the talk and take care of yourself!

Financial wellness
Financial worries not only keep employees up at night, but the emotional impact spills over into the workplace, too. Employees distracted by financial problems also create significant costs for employers in productivity and work errors. An effective financial wellness program should encourage budgeting, emergency savings, debt elimination and retirement planning.
And there’s more :-)
Read on about employee wellness trends - we suggest these articles:

So, if your organization wants to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to addressing employee well-being, take note: well-being is a company-wide effort, not just the responsibility of HR. 


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