Over the last decade or so, the way employers and employees think about corporate health and wellness programs has shifted.
In the past, the U.S. workforce preferred healthcare that was low cost and covered as many services as possible. Healthcare plans followed public thinking: they were focused on a specific set of criteria—health, vision, and dental care—and reactive, meaning medical services were provided after a health event had already occurred.
However, this thinking has increasingly become a thing of the past. Both employers and employees are now prioritizing whole-person well-being in their view of health.
Whole-person well-being considers holistic health, or the entirety of a person, when providing care. This includes placing emotional, financial, and mental health alongside physical health in terms of importance. While reactive healthcare of the past would support medical care for an individual with diabetes, taking a whole-person approach would mean seeking to prevent diabetes from occurring in the first place, as well as encouraging better health management skills for those already diagnosed with a chronic condition.
What has caused this switch? The U.S. workforce has evolved in what they believe defines adequate health and healthcare. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, which mandated preventative care be included in healthcare coverage, marked a symbolic change in cultural thinking. Millennial employees have furthered this shift, with research noting that they care more about employer-sponsored health and wellness programs than previous generations.
So, what does a health and wellness program focused on whole-person well-being look like? It’s more than just supplying employees with stipends for gym memberships and providing healthy snacks around the office (though those two things can be included). Rather, health and wellness programs focused on whole-person well-being seek to address areas possibly overlooked in previous times, such as mental health or assisting employees with lowering alcohol intake, quitting smoking, and weight management.
By focusing on whole-person well-being in the workplace—rather than reactive care after a health event has already occurred—employers are helping their employees toward better health, which results in improved productivity and lower healthcare costs.
Numbers back up the move to a whole-person well-being approach by employers. A recent Willis Tower Watson study highlighted that 97% of employers are committed to providing health and wellness programs focused on whole-person well-being by 2025.
What would whole-person well-being look like in your workplace? Read our latest report.
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