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The 3 Most Impactful Employee Benefits

Powered by the Healthiest Employers® Assessment Data

For employers, attracting and retaining top talent extends beyond competitive salaries. According to an Aflac Workforces report, over 70% of employees stated that having a benefits package is extremely important to their job satisfaction and employer loyalty. And when employers are paying, on average, $21,726 per employee in their total benefits package each year, it’s essential to ensure you’re tailoring your plans with the most impactful offerings as possible.

To gain a better understanding of what benefits are the most impactful, we looked at 2019 Healthiest Employers® Assessment Data. Since 2009, Healthiest Employers has recognized and celebrated people-first companies who invest in the health of their employees.

These employers are some of the most innovative organizations in the country. They’ve garnered a deep understanding of their populations’ behaviors and motivations to develop plans and programs that drive engagement and sustainable outcomes year-over-year.

If you’re looking to introduce or revisit the benefits offered in your plan, below are the top three most impactful benefits included in this year’s 1,000+ Healthiest Employers Assessment Data:

1. Flexible Work Schedules: Over the past 10 years, the industry has seen an 80% increase of organizations offering flexible work schedules in their benefits plan. And of the total Healthiest Employer applications submitted, 95% of responses identified offering this benefit to their employees. Flexible work offerings can include/not be limited to:

    • Flex-business hours
    • Working from home or telecommuting
    • Compressed workweeks (shorter weeks, longer days)

This rapidly increasing employee benefit is one that has very little impact on an organization's budget but, in turn, has some of the most influence on an employee’s morale and engagement.

By encouraging employees to prioritize sick days, personal appointments, and family needs, employers have seen not only a decrease in absenteeism but also an increase in employee productivity. An employee survey conducted by SHRM found that:

  • 96% of employees stated that flexible schedule offerings have influenced their choice to join or remain at a company
  • 89% of employers have noted greater retention in their workforce, simply by offering flexible schedules in job listings and benefits plans
  • 4 in 5 employees have seen a positive impact of flexible schedules in the overall satisfaction of their job and day-to-day engagement

2. Fitness & Lifestyle Programs (Classes/Challenges): Inactivity takes a tremendous toll on the body - and when the average adult spends 45 hours a week sitting, it’s essential to encourage your employees to prioritize exercise. According to statistics gathered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only one in three adults achieve the recommended amount of physical activity each week, and organizations applying for the Healthiest Employer Awards are taking note. 94% of applicants are promoting fitness and lifestyle programs in their benefits. Some of the most popular programs include:

  • Stipend for gym/fitness class memberships
  • Onsite fitness centers
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Meal planning and prepping services

In a study conducted by ITA Group Health, organizations with employee fitness and lifestyle programs exhibit:

  • 26% fewer claims and overall health spend, compared to organizations without fitness and lifestyle benefits
  • 30% decrease in workers’ compensation and disability claims
  • 28% less sick days annually
  • A return of $5.93 for every $1 invested in fitness and lifestyle programs

3. Mental Health Programming: A recent FAIR Health White Paper examined the nationwide increase in behavioral health disorders, including both mental health and substance use disorders. The number of diagnoses for these conditions has grown over 108% during the past 10 years, the most common being major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. And the impact on overall health and employer-sponsored health plans is evident. Across the Springbuk platform, employers on average, see a 12% prevalence rate of mental health disorders, with a per member per month cost of $95. Employers and employees have seen significant increases in caring for these conditions over the past several years from both a medical and pharmacy perspective. See how in one case, Springbuk’s Health Intelligence platform was able to link Opioid use + mental health to more effectively tailor an employer’s plans and programs.

It’s been identified* that in the United States, a lack of mental health support in a workforce attributes to a total loss of 550 million workdays annually, costing employers $17 billion. It was also noted that:

  • 30% of workforces are impacted by mental health conditions.
  • Those with mental health conditions who are not engaged in tailored programs consume two to four times more of employer health resources.

With these preventable and manageable conditions, it’s no wonder that 79% of Healthiest Employer surveyors made note of their mental health program offerings. Today, these employers are introducing an array of mental health initiatives such as:

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Employee Assistance Programs are work-based intervention programs designed to identify and assist employees in resolving issues.
  • Resiliency Training and Stress Management: Resiliency training and stress management focus on preventative care. Options can include onsite yoga or meditation programs, discounts on massage therapy, and company-wide education on healthy methods for coping with stress.
  • 24/7 Nurse Hotline: This can be a way to ensure that employees always have a lifeline where they can get help when they need it the most.

In one case, when a national construction and machinery retailer implemented an EAP within their organization, they invested in both on and offsite counseling through a national network of contracted affiliate counselors. However, this employer wanted to be able to measure the impact and tailor their offerings. To evaluate their program, data was collected from their 500+ employee workforce over a 30-month period. In these two and a half years, they found:

  • 36% decrease in employee absenteeism
  • Employees gained almost four more hours of weekly productivity
  • 22.9% increase in workplace engagement and overall job satisfaction

Every organization’s population needs are a little different. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to employee benefits, making the long-term investment in your employees’ benefits not only helps build morale within your organization but also keep your workforce engaged. To ensure you’re offering plans and programs that align with your population, it’s wise to evaluate your offerings each year. Because once employers understand how to equip their employees with meaningful resources both inside and outside of the workplace, they can begin to shape work experiences to keep their workforce engaged.


*New York Business Group on Health, Improved Mental Health Benefits. Improved Productivity. Healthy Employees.