As burnout and employee stress increase, benefit brokers beg employers for real solutions

As employees increasingly sound the alarm bells for more mental health support, employers are listening and have big plans for 2022. But will those plans translate into action?

Ninety percent of employers are increasing their investments in mental health programs, according to a study by Wellable Labs, the research division of the wellness platform, Wellable. For this year’s research, Wellable Labs surveyed 197 health insurance brokers to better understand the future of employee wellness in a post-COVID world. Seventy-two percent of brokers say their employer clients who invest in larger welfare benefits will do so entirely or almost virtually.

In 2022, employers will continue to focus on virtual solutions such as on-demand fitness classes, health and literacy education, health coaching and health fairs. Telemedicine is also expected to see a big boost this year, according to the study, as 80% of employers say they plan to increase investment in the service.

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“The global pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital solutions, especially among employees, but it has also sparked this massive innovation in digital health,” said Brighid Sullivan, director of Wellable Labs. “Employees love the on-demand experience where they can access information anytime, with the flexibility of where they want to be. “

But getting these needed benefits into the hands of employees remains a struggle for many organizations. Only 1% of brokers surveyed by Wellable said they think their clients fully understand how well employees deal with chronic stress at work.

The pandemic kept mental health at the forefront of the conversation, but employees continued to struggle. Over the past year, more than a third of adults report experiencing an increase in depressive symptoms, according to the Wellable Labs study, and there has also been a 21% increase in burnout and an increase in 17% of physical symptoms of stress due to the pandemic.

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To take action, brokers and employers must work together on a strategy that includes solutions such as accessing digital wellness tools, providing flexible hours, reorganizing meetings and offering alternative resources focused on mindfulness to better support their employees.

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These combined efforts can give employees the comprehensive support they need to overcome challenges both at work and at home. This support network can help them navigate the unknowns of 2022 and beyond, Sullivan says.

“Employees are now demanding that organizations provide resources that go beyond the traditional goal of physical activity and truly support the whole person,” she says. “Well-being is no longer seen as an advantage, but rather as a fundamental element in the success of companies. Now there really is no turning back.

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Richard V. Johnson