Unique Ways to Support the 8 Dimensions of Wellness Through Employee Benefits
Wellness is more than physical health. Here are ideas for supporting every dimension of wellness through creative benefits.
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Today’s working world is vastly different than it was just a few years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many people to reevaluate their priorities and consider what they wanted out of their careers. With the rise of remote work, more people are working and living in the same space, blurring the lines between work and home.
As an HR leader, you might be questioning how you can support employee wellness as these factors continue to shape the future of work. One area to explore is your employee benefits. They provide a unique opportunity to help your employees take care of their wellness in the way that makes the most sense for them.
Below, we break down the eight dimensions of wellness and how to support each dimension through employee benefits.
Emotional wellness refers to someone’s ability to identify and manage their emotions. Individuals with strong emotional well-being can maintain good mental health, cope with stress, adapt to life changes with resiliency, and remain self-aware.
Ensure that you provide coverage for mental health services so employees can seek therapy or counseling. Many employers are doing this by implementing specialty health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), which are employer-funded accounts that help employees pay for eligible healthcare expenses. An HRA is a great option if you want to provide additional coverage outside of your health insurance plan without driving up premiums for the whole group. More employers are also supporting emotional wellness through stipends that cover wellness apps, self-help books, and more.
When HR leaders think of wellness, this might be the first dimension that comes to mind. Physical wellness refers to managing one’s physical health through regular exercise, well-balanced nutrition, plentiful sleep, and disease prevention measures like avoiding tobacco and alcohol or seeking medical care when necessary.
The first step to supporting physical wellness is providing comprehensive insurance for health, dental, and vision. Health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are tax-advantaged accounts that you can offer to employees to help them save for eligible healthcare expenses. Beyond that, stipends are a good option for helping employees pay for gym memberships, workout equipment, vitamins, diet consultations, and more.
Occupational wellness refers to feeling personal satisfaction and fulfillment in your career. Individuals with strong occupational wellness feel enriched by their work and have developed effective job-related skills such as time management or assertiveness that help them succeed in the workplace.
Flexible professional development benefits can help your employees pay for continuing education courses, industry conferences, leadership training, books, and more. Rewards and recognition programs can help your employees feel accomplished and appreciated, which creates a sense of belonging in the workplace and drives motivation. Work from home stipends are also a great resource for helping your remote employees purchase the tools they need to work productively from home.
Social wellness refers to the ability to maintain strong relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. It’s about interacting well with others, knowing how to resolve conflicts, accepting diversity, and feeling connected to a larger community.
At tech company Automox, employees can participate in an AX Connect program, which randomly pairs employees for a physical or virtual coffee date that is paid for by the company through a flexible stipend. This is one creative way to encourage employees to get to know each other and build strong connections in the workplace. Some organizations are even allowing employees to make charitable donations with their benefit funds, which can strengthen their sense of community.
When we think of spiritual wellness, religion might immediately come to mind. Spiritual wellness can be about the pursuit of religious activities, but it encompasses much more than that. It’s about the search for purpose and meaning in life by exploring values, morals, and ethics.
Flexible stipends can help your employees tend to their individual spiritual needs. Employees can use the funds to purchase yoga classes, meditation apps, or relevant courses.
Intellectual wellness is about expanding your knowledge and skills through intellectually stimulating activities. Individuals with strong intellectual wellness are open to new ideas, can be creative and problem solve, and have a love of lifelong learning.
Professional development benefits are one way to promote intellectual wellness, but you can also encourage your employees to pursue creative and intellectual activities that aren’t necessarily related to their day-to-day work. A flexible lifestyle spending account (LSA) can be used to create a personal enrichment program where employees use stipends to pay for art classes, writing workshops, a MasterClass subscription, and more.
Environmental wellness refers to creating pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being. It includes a concern for the climate and how your habits contribute to the health of the planet.
A flexible benefits program can include a pillar for environmental wellness and allow employees to spend funds on plants, gardening, or activities that allow them to be in nature. You can even allow employees to purchase carbon offset credits that help them reduce their individual carbon footprint. Employees who are passionate about the environmental benefits of public transit may also be particularly excited about commuter benefits.
Financial wellness is about feeling financially secure and having the ability to gain control of finances, set a budget, meet financial goals, save for the future, and cope with financial stressors.
Offering your employees a 401(k) is one way to help them save for the future and meet financial goals. HSAs, FSAs, commuter benefits, food stipends, family and childcare benefits, and LSAs are all options that help ease financial burdens for your employees.
Now that we’ve explored all dimensions of wellness, it’s important to remember that they are all intertwined and have an impact on each other. For example, if your employees are struggling with their emotional wellness, they may not have the mental resources they need to take care of their physical health.
An LSA is one option that leaves the concept of wellness wide open for interpretation. Employers can define eligible categories that target each pillar of wellness while giving employees the flexibility to spend how they like.
Mindbody’s wellness program allows employees to spend funds on tattoos, music lessons, aromatherapy, vitamins and supplements, diet consultations, and outdoor activities like fishing or target shooting. Mindbody even implemented company-wide Wellness Days that give employees the encouragement and time to enjoy their wellness benefits.
To learn more about how leading companies are supporting employee wellness, download the 2023 Benepass Benefits Benchmarking Guide. The report breaks down how companies of all sizes are creating programs for wellness, LSA, WFH, personal enrichment, meals, and more. The report also includes a deep dive into how employers are designing LSAs, which more companies are turning to when they want to provide max flexibility to their employees. Download the report to get started.