Being in HR means that every few years a new buzzword or catchphrase that make the rounds. Lately it’s “well-being.” But I don’t think it should be dismissed or looked upon with derision. I think well-being is very likely here to stay. It’s a necessary term. Wellness, which is still used and useful, refers to an employee’s health, in the medical sense. Benefits traditionally associated with wellness are health, dental, vision, etc. Well-being, on the other hand, refers to the sum whole of the employee – their mental, emotional, (and feel free to add spiritual) health.
Well-being benefits are usually things that have an effect on health, although it may be tangential. For instance, financial planning can have an effect on your stress level, which can in turn affect your sleep and thus your overall health. Well-being benefits include such areas as sleep training, personal finance planning, fitness programs, social interaction needs, stress relief training, and spiritual guidance (usually through a chaplain service).
This is a relatively new concept, and research in this area is just beginning. That was one of the reasons Brandon Hall Group included questions about well-being in our 2017 Benefits and Wellness Study. Some of the results indicate that not only is well-being being accepted by the corporate community, in some cases it seems positively entrenched.
Components of Corporate Well-Being Programs
When you consider that overall 81% of organizations offer a traditional medical insurance plan – the levels of these offerings, particularly stress management – are pretty impressive.
Some aspects of employee well-being are not as widely used. For example, only 26% of organizations said they offered community service as a component of their benefits package. Time will tell if organizations see enough value in these newer programs to begin wholesale acceptance of them (the smart money is on “yes,” as these are usually very low-cost benefits compared to standard medical add-ons). The evidence coming from both the quantitative research and the proliferation of vendor offerings (Virgin Pulse™ and OC Tanner’s Welbe™, for example) also indicate that well-being should not be written off as just another HR fad.