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Employer Wellness Programs Offer a New Twist

‘Lunch and learn’ seminars focusing on finances

Employer Wellness Programs Offer a New Twist

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Call it Wellness Plus: American companies are increasingly expanding traditional employee wellness programs to include mortgage advice, tips on financing college for the kids and even ways to expand your community involvement, according to a new survey.

The eighth annual survey on corporate health and well-being from Fidelity Investments, a benefits provider, and the nonprofit National Business Group on Health, an employers’ association, queried 141 large and midsize companies about what kind of benefits programs they were offering for 2017.

While standard programs on how to quit smoking or lose weight remain popular, companies increasingly reported that their programs were defining “health” more broadly to include financial health and community involvement.

“The concept behind holistic well-being is to enable employees to meet their goals rather than tell them what they need to do,” Brian Marcotte, president of the National Business Group on Health, told SHRM Online, the website of the Society for Human Resource Management. “Financial well-being is an important well-being pillar, as it’s hard to engage employees on addressing health needs if they are struggling with putting food on the table or managing debt.”

The expansion also includes spouses. Survey results showed that, on average, employers have increased the financial incentives for employees’ spouses to participate in programs by 47 percent.

The most popular format for the new offerings were “lunch and learn programs”: 82 percent of employers offered such a program, with topics ranging from mortgages and wills to debt management and student loans.

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