Don't Be Plagued On Where To Invest Your Wellness Dollars

September 28, 2021

As sickness and global pandemics have plagued the world in 2020, it’s no surprise that employers plan to invest the same, if not more, on employee wellness programs in the coming years, according to multiple sources.

Prior to 2020, many Iowa-based companies established a range of wellness programs for their employees. For three specific employers, the importance of creating or building on to their established wellness program are centered around the overall wellbeing of every team member. They believe that if the employee’s wellbeing is cared for, then it will create a more productive and overall healthy work environment for everyone.

Blue Compass, a digital marketing agency in Des Moines, office and event manager Laura Sorensen and CEO Cary Coppola committed time and money to finding healthy opportunities for their team. Since 2016, Blue Compass offered minimal yet purposeful programs to keep their team members mentally and physically fit. These programs varied from creating quiet rooms in the workspace to impromptu team walks to having fruit and healthy snacks delivered to the office.


Shifting Trends


According to Wellable, Blue Compass’ prior actions align with industry trends. Prior to COVID-19, many companies invested more time and money toward wellness programs that included offering healthy foods in the workplace, biometric screenings and offering free onsite fitness classes or gym membership reimbursements.

Since the start of 2021, Wellable noted the pandemic shifted many investment trends for employers. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions and other health measures set in place across the country, employers are choosing to limit in-person events or services like fitness classes, health and wellness fairs and biometric screenings.

Companies like Blue Compass, however, saw the need to bring more services to the workplace. With a team of 30, team members can spread out in the office and utilize different spaces to get their work done while also staying active. These spaces include individual rooms, a collaborative café area or use a walking treadmill or biking desk. They have also provided a workout area in their office that includes weights, treadmills and a Peloton bike.

“We want the world to be mentally and physically healthy. However, all we can do is work on ourselves. Providing options for good habits to flourish will help keep us available for our clients and teammates, as well as alleviate stress,” said Coppola.


Remaining Stable


This past year has provided an awakening to health, wellness and proactive safety for some employers.

For local printing company, ADI, taking measures to keep their team members safe and healthy during the pandemic allowed them to reconfigure old policies.

ADI recently switched to a new life and disability carrier, which has allowed for numerous benefits to the organization. Team members have the ability to take voluntary short-term disability and have access to an employee assistance program. The program allows employees to have around the clock assistance for anything regarding their physical, emotional and financial wellbeing.

The printing company’s need to remain stable throughout the year mirrors what other companies plan to do in future years. Wellness challenges, health education classes and health assessments including tobacco cessation and weight management plans to have the same invested toward as previous years.


Rising Needs


The new and emerging investment trends include employers’ concentration on COVID-19 risk intake, telemedicine, stress management and mental health. Wellable notes in their annual research that the five rising needs for employers are linked to focusing on mental health.

Today’s employers are dedicating more time to their team members overall wellbeing – including a team member’s physical, mental and financial health. Programs focusing on these three facets have been on the rise in the most recent years, but the most recent challenges created by COVID-19 accelerated the demand of mental health solutions.

Bank Iowa plans to invest more in mental health programs in 2022. As the second largest ag bank in the state, Bank Iowa has seen mental health challenges with their agricultural clients. “We’ve had team members who have felt helpless when their clients share they are suffering from depression because they want to help but don’t necessarily know how to go about helping.” Bank Iowa’s Chief Administrative Officer, Kate Wolfe shared.

Farmers have one of the leading occupations for suicide in the United States leading Bank Iowa to partner with the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative (IHSI) and their “Make It Ok” campaign to end the stigma of talking about mental health. Through the partnership, Bank Iowa and IHSI conducted a survey of Iowa farmers to measure the impact of mental health on the agricultural community and to inform future “Make It Ok” programs. The survey revealed that 77% of those who work in agriculture have either struggled with mental illness personally, or have had a loved one who has.

“The concept of wellness for us has shifted from health screenings and internal wellness programs to being able to provide mental health support for our team members and our clients.” Wolfe said.


Closing Thoughts


This year may have plagued your organization’s view on where to invest in your wellness programs. When looking to see where to invest more, less or the same toward certain wellness programs, simply recognizing the need of their employees and sometimes your clients, is a step in the right direction.