All well and good: From wellness to well-being

The move to expand traditional wellness programs into more holistic well-being programs is more than just “the right thing to do” to help employees manage their personal and professional stress; it can also create significant business value.

Posted by Jill Korsh and Michael Gilmartin on July 20, 2018.

Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report highlights the need for organizations to be social enterprises, not just business enterprises. This encompasses not only how organizations do business and interact with the outside world, but also how they operate internally. Empowering workers’ well-being is a strategic imperative in today’s social enterprise and is a significant contributor to building an organization’s social capital. Today well-being is not only part of the social mandate for organizations, but also an HR and business issue, linked to culture, engagement, recruiting, productivity, turnover, burnout, business performance, and more.

The 2018 Global Human Capital Trend of treating well-being as a strategy and responsibility is a telling indicator of the changing nature of work and workers’ expectations. Consumers and workers alike are holding companies’ feet to the fire when it comes to how they treat their employees, communities, and society at large. This includes being deliberate about how they serve customers, how they conduct business with vendors, suppliers, and other business partners, their citizenship efforts to serve the local and global community at large, and, of course, how they create a Simply Irresistible experience for their people, whether full- or part-time employees, contractors, or gig workers.

In organizations that are embracing this opportunity, the direction is toward Total Relationships, building on the Total Rewards foundation and offering workers personalized, flexible, customized experiences guided by workers’ own preferences. Increasingly, those preferences extend beyond compensation and benefits and include recognition, career development, and a holistic approach to well-being.

From wellness to well-being
Corporate wellness programs have been around for decades, mostly with an emphasis on physical health and often with the goal to reduce insurance costs. But now these programs have become more holistic, encompassing multiple facets of health and performance—physical, mental/emotional, financial, and social.

The Total Relationship Model


Source: Excerpted from the Total Rewards Framework, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2017

In fact, in this year’s Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey, less than one-quarter (23 percent) of respondents—which include leaders from across business and functional areas, including human resource leaders—said their well-being program was designed to reduce insurance costs. But 43 percent said well-being reinforces their organization’s mission and vision, 60 percent said it improves employee retention, and 61 percent said it improves employee productivity and bottom-line business results.1

A unified well-being approach
Deloitte’s view is that employers should address all four pillars of well-being—Body, Mind, Wealth, and Purpose—to sustain impact, empower continuous employee engagement, and sustain long-term performance while also providing purpose, meaning, opportunity, and well-being.

A unified well-being approach
Source: Deloitte Consulting LLP

A unified view of well-being and the associated programs and services become part of the talent brand for an organization. More broadly, a holistic well-being approach factors into an organization’s corporate citizenship and supports the transition from business enterprise to social enterprise—the key theme of this year’s Trends report.

Getting started
Many of the respondents to our Trends survey showed substantial gaps between what employees value in terms of well-being programs and what is offered to employees. (As just one example, 63 percent of respondents said an employee assistant program was valuable or very valuable, but only 30 percent of surveyed organizations offer one.2) We have some considerations to get you started in closing these types of gaps.

Do you know what your workers want and expect? Our research shows that $1,500 per full-time employee is typically wasted by offering benefits workers don’t value or appreciate.3 Analytics, surveys, and optimization studies can give you the insights to make more informed decisions about what your workforce values as rewards and your rewards spending.

How well do your well-being programs align with and support business, HR, and rewards strategies and branding? Of course, in addition to meeting worker needs, rewards should also make sense from a strategic perspective. Do yours?

How are you communicating about these programs with workers? Communication affects both utilization and perception of rewards programs, which in turn can affect program impact.

Is your current technology helping or hindering? Many new vendors and solutions have entered the market, many of which include analytics and personalized delivery and communication.

How regularly do you take stock of program offerings? We all know the world of work is changing all the time—agility is just as important inside the organization as it is in responding to customer and market demands. Continuously monitoring, managing, and adjusting rewards offerings is key to optimizing their value.

Caring for workers and allowing them to care for themselves is a primary goal of well-being programs, because it is both the “right thing to do” and makes business sense as part of the growing social mandate for organizations. Anchored by unified well-being programs that are tailored to fit the workforce of the future, your organization can build the kind of Total Relationships that are a real differentiator in building and maintaining an engaged workforce that can be productive and fulfilled.

Jill Korsh is a managing director in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice and is a leader in the area of Benefits and Well-being advisory services for clients.
Michael Gilmartin is a senior manager in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice, where he provides advisory services across Rewards, Well-being, and Employee Engagement.

1 Dimple Agarwal, Josh Bersin, Gaurav Lahiri, Jeff Schwartz, Erica Volini, “Well-being: A strategy and a responsibility,” 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends.

2 Ibid.

3 Bug Insights 2016 study examining benefit preferences of Americans.

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