Vinod VK, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Shahid Akhter, Editor-in-Chief, ETHealthworld, spoke with Vinod VKHead of Health and Benefits, Willis Towers Watson India Insurance Brokers, to learn more about the recent The Willis Towers Watson Benefits Trends 2021 Survey and the strategies that have evolved during the pandemic to keep employees safe, healthy and motivated.

What are the key factors driving employee health and benefits strategy in organizations?
Benefits offered by organizations need to be future-proof and useful. Today, organizations are increasingly offering benefit plans whose value to employees remains consistent with different demographic cohorts throughout the employment lifecycle while meeting their ongoing needs. evolution. These benefits truly meet the needs of employees and are not just token initiatives.

Another driver of the benefits strategy is the need to improve the employee experience. To do this, organizations design relevant benefits for the entire life cycle of their employees.

Another factor that takes center stage is inclusion and diversity in the workforce. In fact, Willis Towers Watson’s 2021 Benefits Trends Survey found that Indian employers ranked inclusion and diversity as the top external influence driving their benefits strategy. Emphasis is also placed on aligning benefits with ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) objectives.

Another key factor driving employee benefits strategies is the rising cost of benefits, followed by the uncertain future of work and workplaces. Organizations understand that the nature of work has changed irrevocably. They know that by designing benefits around this change, they stand a good chance of thriving during the uncertainty ahead.

How can organizations improve the employee wellness experience within their organizations?
Businesses can improve the employee wellness experience within the organization by putting employees at the center of everything – from ideation, design and execution. This forms the basis of an organization’s wellness strategy, which should be integrated into the overall HR strategy (benefits and rewards).

According to the Willis Towers Watson 2021 Benefits Trends Survey, 65% of organizations prioritize integrating wellness into the benefits package over the next two years. They see it as a major strategic objective of the employee experience.

This would mean taking steps towards programs that offer greater flexibility and choice as well as customization, especially in the context of the future of work and workplaces. To enable these changes, organizations need to embrace a phygital concept that addresses employees’ online and offline experiences. Interestingly, 66% of employers have already implemented or plan to adopt technology/digital solutions to improve employee health and wellbeing within the next two years.

Organizations would also be well served by developing better employee listening and communication strategies. This would allow employers to better understand the needs and preferences of employees. The same survey also found that 81% of employers plan to survey their employees for their opinion on health and wellness benefits.

What are the expected trends in employee health and benefits in 2022 in terms of mental and physical well-being?

Wellness has evolved from a focus on treatment to a focus on prevention. And we’ve seen huge demand from people wanting to take control of their health. This was driven by a number of different factors. First, technology, consumers have been empowered by technology, they have access to more information than ever before, and they are able to make choices about their own health care, where in the past they would have relied on their physician to make such choices. The move towards self-care is also facilitated by incentives. The cost of health care poses such a challenge that insurers and providers are urging individuals to pay more for their health care, resulting in a change in consumer behavior.

Some of the expected employee health and benefits trends in 2022 in terms of mental and physical well-being are:

Digital healthcare delivery
The adoption of digital healthcare in physical and mental well-being. Healthcare professionals are now offering virtual sessions to prescribe and diagnose illnesses. Patients can even book virtual sessions with personal trainers, physical therapists, spiritual coaches, nutritionists, mental health professionals, nurses, and even sleep specialists.

More and more health services are using online tools to provide remote patient care. And now that healthcare has begun to embrace digital tools, there is no turning back. The global pandemic has not only accelerated the adoption of digital tools and solutions by end users, but also the availability of digital technology solutions that employers are using to help employees and members better manage their health.

Virtual and online fitness – with these online classes, participants can befriend other people around the world who share their interests and meet them online at a time of their choosing.

Emergence of mental health
Awareness of the importance of mental health has increased in recent years, and this increase will continue through 2022. While many employers are adopting hybrid ways of working, with employees working from home and in the office, the focus will be even more on mental health. health.

Ensuring the mental well-being of employees, customers and the wider community is already a top priority for businesses around the world. In the coming year, as working from home becomes more common and people’s lives become more interconnected, there will be even more emphasis on mental health, alongside physical health and well-being. . This will have a positive impact on individuals, businesses and communities.

Have a holistic approach to wellness within the overall benefits portfolio
As there is a clear link between physical and mental health, which are also influenced by environmental factors, 2022 will be the year when people start to treat health holistically. The fact that our health and wellbeing depends as much on the mind as on the body and on social connections and our communities – a holistic approach to each of these is an emerging trend and one to watch.

What role will employee well-being play in benefits over the next 2 years?
To attract and retain the best talent, companies today must offer the most attractive employer brand. Candidates no longer choose an employer solely on the basis of salary, benefits and distance from home. More and more, they want to work for a company that offers a holistic range of wellness benefits and services. With expanded benefits, progressive employers want to differentiate their wellness, wellness and benefits program from those of their peers, as well as personalize the employee experience. I&D objectives and ESG objectives are also key factors guiding benefit strategies. Over the next two years, the key objectives of the organization’s benefits strategies will be the integration of wellness into benefits.

What are the key findings from the Willis Towers Watson Benefits Trends survey in terms of employee health?
When it comes to their employees, employers’ primary concern is managing stress, burnout, mental health issues and increasing social interaction, preventing health issues or unhealthy lifestyles and increase productivity and efficiency at work.

Employers are realizing that improving employee health and well-being is the primary measure of the success of employers’ benefits strategy. An effective benefits strategy results in improved employee well-being (physical and emotional health, financial security, social connections), improved employee experience (engagement with employees, how they use their benefits). Integrating wellbeing into the benefits package will be the top strategic focus of the employee experience over the next two years.

In 2022, employee health and well-being will be the focus of benefits. Wellbeing will be integrated into basic benefits – 65% of employers say this is a strategic focus. Additionally, benefits are more likely to be introspective, thoughtful and differentiated from those of their peers – 77% of employers want to differentiate their benefits programs from those of other organizations.

Benefits will be customized with the needs of employees of different demographics in mind – they will provide flexibility and choice. Finally, employee listening strategies will be incorporated into benefits – a third of employers plan to survey employees for their views on benefits.

Most employers are in the early stages of digital adoption, but nine in ten plan to embed and personalize the digital experience across all benefits over the next two years. Additionally, three in five employers are considering or considering adopting a digital data center that bundles all the benefits, while a third are evaluating the use of predictive analytics to forecast future costs and risks. Similarly, two in five are considering online dashboards to provide senior management with instant access to cost, risk, claims and usage information.

About Evelyn C. Heim

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