Employee well-being has emerged as a cornerstone of modern workplace culture, demonstrating a shift from merely focusing on productivity to prioritizing holistic employee health and satisfaction. In today's work environment, where 83% of US workers experience work-related stress and 34% report declining mental health, implementing comprehensive employee well-being benefits is necessary to build a thriving workforce.

Women's and family health benefits are pivotal components of employee well-being. However, workplaces can often overlook the unique health needs of women and organizations don’t always fully acknowledge the challenges that working parents face in balancing work and family responsibilities. However, by implementing comprehensive well-being benefits, employers can ensure that every employee has the tools to thrive at home and work.

Employers are also realizing that not adequately supporting well-being in the workplace is costly for business. For example, 15% of women have said they either missed work or reduced their hours due to their menopause symptoms and 15% of men have taken more than a week off work for fertility-related reasons, including appointments and mental health issues. Building well-being benefits that provide employees better support along their reproductive health journeys have the potential to boost the global economy by $1 trillion by 2040, according to the McKinsey Health Institute.

HR teams are well positioned to make a positive impact on employee well-being through building better employee well-being benefits. This article acts as a roadmap on how to do this effectively.

The evolving landscape of employee well-being benefits

Employee benefits have evolved significantly over time, reflecting changes in societal norms, workforce demographics, and organizational priorities.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, employee benefits primarily revolved around basic provisions like wages, hours, and workplace safety. The first pension plan was established in the US in 1875 by American Express, but by 1920, not many other businesses had followed in their path. However, health insurance, pension plans, employee assistance programs, and paid time off gradually became standard offerings by the mid-century, driven in part by regulatory changes and labor movements.

As the competition for talent intensified in the latter half of the 20th century, employers began to differentiate themselves through more comprehensive benefits packages. This included expanded healthcare coverage, retirement savings plans like 401(k)s, and additional perks such as tuition reimbursement and wellness programs.

In response to rising healthcare costs and the recognition of the link between employee health and productivity, wellness programs gained prominence in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. These programs typically offered incentives for activities promoting physical health, such as gym memberships, smoking cessation programs, and healthy eating initiatives. However, with changing workforce demographics, including the rise of dual-income households and a greater focus on work-life balance, employees have begun to seek benefits that address their total health and holistic well-being.

Understanding well-being employee benefits

Key considerations of well-being benefits revolve around them meeting a broad scope of employee wellness needs that can change at different life stages including family building, parenting, midlife and beyond.

Definition and scope of well-being benefits

Well-being benefits need to encompass the many aspects that impact an employee's overall health and quality of life.

Clinical health

Clinical health benefits encompass medical services and resources aimed at promoting physical well-being and addressing medical needs. They can include:

  • Health insurance coverage
  • Routine health screenings
  • Access to specialists
  • Chronic disease management
  • Reproductive health services
  • Wellness initiatives

Emotional health

Emotional health benefits focus on supporting emotional well-being; addressing employee mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression; and generally promoting employee contentment and resilience. Such benefits include:

  • Mental health counseling
  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs)
  • Mental health resources
  • Workplace mental health policies
  • Peer support networks

Financial well-being

Financial well-being benefits aim to support employees' financial health, alleviate financial stress, and promote financial literacy and stability. Examples include:

  • Retirement savings plans
  • Financial support for fertility & reproductive health services
  • Financial education workshops
  • Employee loans and financial assistance
  • Flexible compensation options
  • Student loan assistance
  • Insurance benefits

Benefits of investing in employee well-being and mental health benefits

A positive work environment has been shown to be good for employee health, but making employee well-being a top priority also has numerous benefits for your organization and can improve business outcomes.

For example, a study by Deloitte found that organizations see a 5:1 return on what they invest in employee well-being. Further, research found that medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every $1 spent on wellness programs and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every $1 spent.

Another Deloitte survey found that when workers are happy, their workplace productivity increases by 20%, they are 34% less likely to leave their job to seek a new job and 37% less likely to take time off sick. Further studies support these insights. such as research by the University of Oxford which found that happy workers are 13% more productive.

Employee happiness and engagement have also been linked to sales and profitability. Research shows happier employees increase sales by 37% and an engaged workforce boosts profitability by 21%.

Maven’s State of Women’s and Family Health Benefits 2024

How fertility, maternal health, and Gen Z are transforming benefits decisions.

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Maven’s State of Women’s and Family Health Benefits 2024

Supporting women's and family health with well-being strategies

It is estimated that there are more than 158 million Americans in some form of employment. Of those in the private sector, around 86% work for organizations that offer employer-sponsored health insurance. Despite this, our research indicates that many workers feel their benefits packages fall short. 29% don’t believe that their employer is actively trying to reduce their healthcare costs and 24% don’t agree that their employee is trying to get them the best quality healthcare. 

24 million women are working parents with children under the age of 18, and 46% of two-parent families see both parents working full-time. However, only 14% of working parents feel supported by their employee benefits package.

It's clear that there's a disparity between the support provided by employers and what employees need. If organizations want to improve employee well-being, boost employee morale, increase workplace productivity, and retain employees, they need to understand and cater to the unique health and wellness needs of employees along their reproductive health journeys.

Unique health and wellness needs of women and families

Employees who are starting and raising families and navigating midlife health have unique health and wellness needs that require tailored support strategies within workplace well-being programs. Recognizing and addressing these needs not only promotes inclusivity, but also enhances employee satisfaction, retention, and overall well-being.

Fertility support

Globally, around one in six people experience fertility issues. Moreover, in the United States, economic, racial, ethnic, geographic, and other disparities prevent access to fertility treatment and affect treatment outcomes. Reproductive health support and fertility assistance can help employees with their family-building journeys. Fertility support can include:

  • Trying to conceive coaching
  • Educational resources
  • On-demand access to fertility and reproductive health specialists
  • Coverage for fertility assessments, treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF), and fertility preservation options.
  • Access to a network of high-quality fertility clinics
  • Flexible scheduling and PTO

Maternity and parental leave

The US has the worst maternity policies among the world's richest countries, offering no national paid leave. And the number of organizations offering paid maternity leave appears to be dropping, even though 82% of Americans feel mothers should receive paid maternity leave.

In addition, only 21% of workers receive paid leave through an employer parental leave program, despite the vast number of families in the country where both parents work full time.

Offering paid maternity and parental leave can improve the mental health, emotional well-being and physical health of parents and children. It can also support a better work-life balance, giving employees the ability to prioritize the different aspects of their lives in the best way for them.

Parenting and pediatric support

Becoming a parent is a major life transition and employees deserve support from their employers to navigate this new aspect of their lives. However, our research indicates that working parents are struggling to balance their professional and parenting responsibilities. Almost a quarter of working parents are experiencing burnout and 64% intend to leave their jobs. Of those who have already quit, 50% cite childcare as the cause. 

Holistic parenting and pediatric support from mental health providers, pediatricians, sleep coaches, OB-GYNs, and career coaches can help employees mindfully parent and excel in their careers while still prioritizing their own self-care. 

Menopause support

Women between the ages of 45 and 54 represent a fifth of the female workforce in the US. Many of these women are navigating the adverse impact of menopause with little or no support from their employers.

According to a study from the Mayo Clinic, 13% of women within this age group reported at least one adverse work outcome due to menopause symptoms, with nearly 11% missing days of work. It’s estimated that the global productivity loss from menopause tops over $150B annually

Although 87% of women want their employer to be more supportive of women's health concerns, including menopause, only 24% of employers offer menopause support. However, when menopause benefits are offered, 58% of women say they have a positive impact on their work.

Implementing effective employee mental health and well-being benefits programs

Steps to assess employee needs and preferences

Your benefits won't be effective unless they align with the needs and desires of your workforce. Utilize surveys and focus groups to gather feedback on employee needs, preferences, and priorities regarding well-being benefits. Also analyze health utilization data to identify trends, gaps, and areas of opportunity for improvement in existing benefits offerings.

Designing a program that addresses diverse needs

You can ensure inclusivity in your benefits design by considering the diverse needs of employees, including women's health, family support, and mental well-being. Be sure to assess the needs of employees at different stages of their lives.

Forging partnerships with specialized health providers such as Maven can help you offer high-quality, timely and tailored services and resources, such as access to a vetted network of fertility clinics or menopause specialists, guaranteeing that your employees get the level of care they deserve, when they need it.

Communicating benefits to employees

Once your employee well-being benefits package is live, you need to make employees throughout the organization aware of this. Use multiple communication channels and clear, accessible language to explain the range of benefits available and how they can be accessed. Remind employees periodically about your organization's wellness programs via emails, in all-hands meetings, and with printed resources.

Highlight personal success stories to demonstrate the impact of well-being benefits, and inspire employee engagement. By encouraging employees to take part in continuous feedback loops and by establishing regular updates, you can keep employees informed, gather input, and continuously improve your organization's wellbeing program.

Measuring the impact of well-being programs

Well-being programs will only remain effective if they are continuously monitored and adjusted to meet the evolving needs of your workforce. Selecting and assessing key metrics can help you do this.

Key metrics to track success

  • Employee satisfaction surveys: Assess employee perceptions of well-being program effectiveness and satisfaction levels through anonymous pulse surveys.
  • Health outcomes: Monitor changes in health indicators such as the number of sick days taken, healthcare utilization, and overall health improvement.
  • Participation rates in well-being programs: Track employee engagement with well-being initiatives to gauge program effectiveness.

Adjusting programs based on feedback and data

Use the feedback from surveys and data analysis to refine and tailor well-being programs to better meet employee needs and preferences. Continuously adjust program offerings based on evolving workforce demographics, health trends, and organizational goals.

Offering well-being benefits with Maven

Well-being benefits can no longer be viewed as a nice-to-have perk; they must be a fundamental component of your business strategy if you want to support your employees at work and at home. Well-being programs can make a significant difference to the lives of individual employees by promoting good physical and mental health and a better work-life balance. They can also elevate organizational culture and improve business outcomes as a result of lower turnover rates, improved productivity, reduced absenteeism, and increased profitability.

If you want to join the many organizations already prioritizing employee well-being, you can start by evaluating your current offering. If you'd like support from a specialized benefits provider to elevate your well-being benefits, speak to Maven. We help employers to support the physical, mental, financial, and professional needs of their employees across every phase of their family and reproductive health journey with our comprehensive platform. Book a demo today to see how we can make a difference in the lives of your employees. 

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