2018 is here! It’s not too late to set some New Year’s Resolutions! Here are a few tips from Whitney Cwirka from Benefit Focus!

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Rightly or not, it’s a time of year primarily known for “resolution-ers” renewing their fitness vows, joining gyms and annoying the regulars with the abrupt occupation of their treadmills. The focus is on the physical, and while that is an important part of health and wellness, it’s shortsighted of what’s really going on in the current health and wellness landscape.

In fact, the entire definition of workplace wellness has evolved in a relatively short time.

Traditional wellness programs tend to focus on identifying risk factors and implementing health programs that address those risk factors, whether that’s through nutrition, exercise or a combination of both. But the understanding of living a healthy lifestyle and what that means has shifted from the traditional focus on physical health towards the holistic – addressing all of the factors that can contribute to employee well-being and treating employees’ unique needs: physical, emotional, financial and all of the wellness factors that fall in between.

This shift is important for a number of reasons.

First, as an employer and HR leader, you’re there to help employees make the most of their benefits when and where they need them, and that extends beyond just medical to the ancillary benefits or any additional company offerings that address well-being.

And, because the job market is filled with competition, benefits that make an impact can also mean attracting, engaging and retaining top talent.

But you’ve also seen the reports showing that stress, distractions and poor health impact engagement and productivity on the job – a phenomenon known as presenteeism, which can deal a major blow to your bottom line.

report from the Integrated Benefits Institute quantified what lost productivity is costing businesses, and the number is pretty staggering. It found that workers who came to work and were not fully productive cost the U.S. economy $227 billion per year.

The good news is that with all of the tools and more personalized health and wellness options available, it’s now easier than ever to provide every employee the resources to help them live healthy, happy lives – while helping boost productivity and protecting your bottom line. So, as you look for ways to help employees make 2018 a prosperous and productive one, consider a focus on a holistic strategy to employee wellness that might include:

  • Retirement Planning should be a top priority, whether employees are millennials or boomers. Strategies could include helping employees maximize their retirement savings through vehicles like 401(k)s, Roth 401(k)s, or other retirement options you may be offering employees, along with providing services to meet with financial advisors on investment options and retirement portfolio management.
  • Debt Management services, including debt consolidation, credit counseling and one-on-one financial coaching, help employees move towards long-term financial success and are typically combined with programs to help employees pay off debt and make behavioral changes to their finances.
  • Student Loan Repayment or Refinancing helps alleviate the burden of debt coming out of college. Often large and complex, these loans require employees to pay, on average, $351 per month for 10 years. Refinancing allows professionally employed graduates the option to refinance or consolidate their high-rate student loans to a lower interest rate. Repayment programs, the more traditional approach, involves employers making monthly, quarterly or annual contributions to student loans.
  • Telehealth, or virtual doctor consultations, provides direct access to a physician 24x7x365 and can take place by text, phone, email or video. Telehealth consultations are alternatives for non-emergency treatment and visits to a primary care physician. They provide instant access to a doctor and can often eliminate the inconvenience and high cost of in-person visits to a primary care doctor, urgent care center or emergency room.
  • Legal Insurance typically features access to a network of attorneys who can help employees navigate a variety of real-life situations that could grow into a significant legal or financial issue, such as a dispute with a home contractor, child custody during a divorce, or navigating all the red tape of buying a home.
  • Identity Protection services include monitoring, detection and resolution, which can save time and resources, and alleviate the emotional burden that comes with identity crime.
  • Nutrition services are fairly self-explanatory. Health starts with what you put in your body, so nutritionists working with employees can help them get hooked on healthy eating or finding the right nutrition strategy for their needs and goals.
  • Employee Perks like gym memberships or bringing professional trainers onsite can help round out a wellness strategy, encouraging employees to not forget about how physical well-being fits into the wellness equation.
  • Leaves of Absence are also an important part of your strategy as an employer targeting employees’ emotional wellness factors. Whether they are caregivers, need time for parental leave or some other unexpected circumstance, employees will breathe easier knowing they have the freedom to take time away from work if necessary.

If you’re looking for a 2018 HR resolution, we have a suggestion to offer.

When implementing new wellness initiatives, resolve to support it with education and information. With a comprehensive communication plan, including things like targeted emails, online video, and even health and wellness fairs, you can help employees solve a specific need that can make a significant difference in achieving true ROI from your wellness programs.

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