2021 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report

Wellable surveyed consultants and wellness directors from health insurance brokers across the country, representing thousands of companies and millions of lives, to reveal where companies are investing wellness dollars and how they are adapting to the new normal of a soon-to-be post-pandemic world.

Explore the highlights here, and download the full report now to make better benefits decisions and create competitive wellness plans that attract and retain talent.

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Overview

This comprehensive report investigates and quantifies the wellness strategies companies are implementing in 2021. As part of the research, the survey explored three key areas: (i) investment trends, (ii) decision influencers, and (iii) vendor criteria. This year, the report also includes a special section dedicated to COVID-19 and its impacts on the future of work and well-being.

For more detail on the participant profiles and a deeper dive into the survey results, please download the full report.

Investment Trends

The survey identified 24 specific wellness programs and strategies, such as stress management, gym membership reimbursement, and telemedicine, that employers may be considering investing in during the coming year. Respondents were asked whether they expect their employer clients to invest less, the same, or more in the associated programs. Although many employers are planning to invest the same amount in the coming year (42%), there is still a large subset planning to investment more into health and well-being programs (37%). As wellness programs become more popular and the rising cost of benefits pushes employers of all sizes to offer comprehensive and competitive benefits, these programs will continue to see more investment—especially for benefits that are highly valued and/or cost-effective.

Rising Stars

For 2021, employers are investing most in mental health (88%), telemedicine (87%), stress management/resilience (81%), mindfulness and meditation (69%), and COVID-19 risk intake/wellness passport (63%) programs. With three out of five rising stars closely linked to mental health, it is clear that companies are extremely focused on and dedicated to supporting mental well-being. These programs have been growing in popularity in recent years, and the unique challenges created by COVID-19 have only accelerated the demand for mental health solutions. Bereavement, isolation, loss of income, and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. Encouragingly, employers are taking notice.

Falling Giants

Health fairs (60%), free healthy food/stocked kitchens (54%), biometric screenings (53%), on-site fitness classes (48%), and gym membership reimbursement (38%) all ranked the highest in terms of the percentage of employers expecting to invest less. For many of these downward-trending investments, COVID-19 restrictions and public health measures made them unattractive or created too many barriers to their access. With the increase in people working remotely, stricter health and safety protocols, and social distancing recommendations, companies are limiting both the availability of shared food options as well as access to congregation areas like kitchens and break rooms. Many gyms and fitness centers remain closed or with limited access to members, while other at-home and virtual fitness options rise in popularity.

COVID-19 Implications

Considering employers’ heightened awareness of health concerns, almost all brokers believe that the safety measures, sanitary practices, and social distancing guidelines companies established will remain to some degree even after the pandemic has subsided.

Most brokers believe that employers will continue to offer flexible scheduling to support their caregiver-employers even after the pandemic.Flexibility is key when it comes to balancing both work and caregiving. Offering this requires no additional upfront costs for an employer, but it can be the difference between retaining workers that, otherwise, might just quit.

Almost all brokers expect that employers will expand their virtual wellness services. As offices closed during the pandemic, employers pivoted their employee wellness strategy to include virtual options. Since many organizations plan to move forward with a decentralized workforce or hybrid model, expanding these services is an extremely sustainable choice.

The demand for virtual health has soared in conjunction witth mental health needs. While COVID-19 created a real necessity for on-demand access to live counselors, nurses, and health providers, most brokers think this trend will continue even after the virus is no longer a threat. These are appealing cost-effective options for employers in the US, which has the highest health benefit costs in the world. It also satisfies employees’ desire for quality, convenient, and affordable care.

Explore The Data

When available, the report showcased four years of historical data. The gradual year-over-year trends provide useful context for the drastic changes brought on by the pandemic. To see breakdowns of the data, please download the full report.

Biometric Screenings

2021

HISTORICAL DATA

  • Investing Less
  • Investing Same
  • Investing More

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