Employee Benefits: A Move Toward Holistic Well-being

Sep 12, 2021

“If we leave the human factor out of our business calculations, we shall be wrong every time.”  – William H. Lever, founder of Lever Brothers

Born in the 1850s, Lever was before his time—understanding the importance of holistic health and well-being well before they were popular ideas in the benefits arena.

But employers today are catching up with Lever’s forward-thinking perspective. In MetLife’s U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, a significant majority of employers—nearly 80%—agree they have a responsibility for the health and well-being of their employees. That’s in line with employee feedback that revealed 74% of employees are concerned about at least one aspect of their well-being as a result of the virus. And a Benefitnews.com article further emphasizes this point, reporting that stress—which can impact every aspect of a person’s life—continues to be a problem for employees, which means that employers need to enhance wellness efforts to provide more holistic support.

Four Areas of Holistic Well-being

The MetLife survey focused on four aspects of holistic well-being that employers should address:

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Financial health
  • Social health

Beyond Benefits

A holistic well-being program starts with traditional benefits—everything from medical to retirement, as well as EAP and a variety of voluntary benefits (i.e., long-term disability, supplemental life insurance, legal services, financial planning). It also includes family-friendly benefits like paid parental leave, back-up care, adoption assistance, etc.

While these benefits are foundational to supporting the well-being of your employees, a comprehensive well-being program extends beyond benefits to include programs and options that support employees’ efforts to get and be well in all aspects of their life.

Here are some of the programs Westcomm clients have put in place to address the four areas of holistic well-being:

Physical: One client offers a steep discount (more than 50%) to WW (Weight Watchers), whereas another large employer launched a wellness program that rewards employees with a credit that lowers their health plan premium for the following year.

Mental: A large global employer we work with has made mental health a regular part of their company speak. On a monthly basis, they highlight a specific topic and talk about it openly. Managers are provided with tips and conversation starters to initiate discussions with their teams.

Financial: One healthcare client offers a student loan relief program that provides counseling on student loan debt and how to apply for the Public Service Forgiveness Loan program provided by the federal government. The program goes hand-in-hand with the company’s tuition reimbursement and loan contribution offerings. So, from first applying to school to paying off debt, the organization offers peripheral services to assist employees.

Social: One Westcomm client recognizes the need for a viable backup care option when normal child or elder care falls through. They offer a program through a national vendor that employees can access when they need to find a quick, alternative solution.

Where to Go from Here

If you’re an employer that wants to begin implementing a more holistic well-being culture for employees, consider these tips for your next steps:

Define what holistic well-being means for your organization. And then communicate this regularly to your employees—make it a consistent part of the company conversation.

Assess where there are gaps: You may consider a short survey that allows employees to share what types of programs may interest them.

Show (don’t just tell!) how your current benefits and programs support the different aspects of employee well-being. It’s likely you have benefits and programs in place already that address well-being in a variety of ways. Consider visual cues that reinforce the different aspects of a multi-pronged well-being approach.

Embed open discussion into your organizational culture where employees can honestly talk about well-being without judgement. This may be an online forum, or it may start with equipping managers to have these conversations.

Supported Employees Equals a More Engaged and Productive Team

Employees who feel supported by their employer are generally more engaged and productive because they feel a sense of value. If we can help you communicate your company’s commitment to holistic well-being, please drop us a note below or connect with us @westcomm on LinkedIn.

Employee Benefits: A Move Toward Holistic Well-being


Benefit Communications Report: New Insights into What Works

Toolkit: Promoting Your Benefits Year-Round

Toolkit: Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health

New Program Communications Checklist

Communications Metric Checklist

Open Enrollment Debrief Worksheet