A popular program, seeing its continual rise amongst employers in 2019, is the Employee Wellness Program. Many companies see this voluntary program as a key component in attracting and retaining the best talent to their open positions and company culture. However, employers are missing out on numerous opportunities to add other voluntary benefits to enhance their wellness programs even further.

Employers and brokers can work together on identifying the key trends and needs of successful wellness programs, along with quality employee data gathering efforts to learn which voluntary benefits would complement their employee wellness program the best.

Did you know that employers can offer numerous voluntary benefits to their employees at little, to no cost to themselves? These offerings give employees the customization they want most, leaving them feeling secure, happy and ready to support the company with their best work.

Now let’s dive into wellness programs, complementing voluntary benefits and more to help you create or enhance the perfect employee wellness program.


employee wellness program

What is an employee wellness program?

According to HeathCare.gov, an employee wellness program is:

A program intended to improve and promote health and fitness that’s usually offered through the workplace, although insurance plans can offer them directly to their enrollees. The program allows your employer or plans to offer you premium discounts, cash rewards, gym memberships, and other incentives to participate. Some examples of wellness programs include programs to help you stop smoking, diabetes management programs, weight loss programs, and preventative health screenings.

Wellness programs are created to act as a safeguard against numerous ailments and illnesses while supporting the improvement of the general health of participating employees. The foundation of these programs is built through communication, education and buy-in from key stakeholders in an organization to support program efforts.

What is usually included in an employee wellness program?

In a typical program, employers can support wellness efforts with  the following:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Weight loss
  • Stress management
  • Company gym/workout rooms
  • Recreational programs such as company sponsored- team sports teams
  • Medical screenings and immunization/flu shots
  • Specific educational safety/ accident prevention programs such as:
    • back care, cancer prevention, AIDs awareness and proper eating/exercise habits

While these are commonly offered in an employee wellness program today, many employers are also considering other forms of ‘wellness’ initiatives to address such as mental health and financial wellness.

The benefits of employee wellness programs

There is an abundance of benefits for both employers and employees when it comes to the impact of a well-setup employee wellness program.

Benefits for employees

1. Employee wellness programs boost healthy attitudes and stonewall the risk of lifestyle-related disease

According to a Workplace Wellness Program Study Report, published by Rand Health Quarterly,

Consistent with prior research, we find that lifestyle management interventions as a component of a wellness program can reduce risk factors, such as smoking, and increase healthy behaviors, such as exercise. We find that these effects are sustainable over time and clinically meaningful. This result is of critical importance, as it confirms that workplace wellness programs can help contain the current epidemic of lifestyle-related diseases, the main driver of premature morbidity and mortality as well as health care cost in the United States.

This report states that over time, positive effects on employee health and their lives can be attained through employer preventative care initiatives.

2. Employees want these programs

Data from a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed that “about 59.4 percent of employees think employers should attempt to improve the health of their workers.”

As employees spend vast amounts of their days in the office, it shouldn’t come to a surprise that expectations would be there for the employers to help to provide employee betterment opportunities to help make the location a place they want their career to be at.

3. Employee wellness programs are linked to decreasing depression

The National Center for Biotechnology Information found that a specific wellness program called “Coronary Health Improvement Project” (CHIP) led to a decrease in depression and improved nutrition over time.

The study showed that social interaction and positive reinforcement helped nurture these improvements among employees.

critical illness insurance market

Benefits for employers

1. Wellness programs are proven to reduce employee absenteeism and presenteeism, thus saving them thousands to millions per year

According to a report from the Global Wellness Institute, because of poor well-being, companies in the U.S. lose $550 billion annually in productivity due to absenteeism and presenteeism. An excellent employee wellness program can help keep employees happy, healthy and ready to work.

2. Programs help to increase overall employee engagement

A report from the Economist Intelligence Unit and Humana found that employees who participated in wellness programs felt more aligned with their role and the employer’s mission and goals. Companies with a well-defined employee wellness program found their participants more focused and engaged in their everyday jobs.

3. Employee wellness programs could raise the market assessment of your company

The Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine released a report linking employee wellness programs, socially responsible companies, and their value over time.

This study supports prior and ongoing research demonstrating a higher market valuation—an affirmation of business success by Wall Street investors—of socially responsible companies that invest in the health and well-being of their workers when compared with other publicly traded firms.

One caveat to note is that the researchers caution the link between wellness programs and market value is neither or immediate. However, it is encouraged for employers to make long-term investments and goals to develop a tested and proven program that may one-day benefit stock performance.

Employee wellness programs and voluntary benefit opportunites

According to SHRM, there are nine steps to complete when creating an employee wellness program. Those include:

1. Conduct assessments

2. Obtain management support

3. Establish a wellness committee

4. Develop goals and objectives

5. Establish a budget

6. Design wellness program components

7. Select wellness program incentives or rewards

8. Communicate wellness plan

9. Evaluate the success of the program

Read SHRM’s detailed steps here.

voluntary employee benefits

What are voluntary benefits?

Voluntary benefits—or supplemental benefits—are products offered through an employer but are paid for partially or solely by workers through payroll deductions. An attractive perk of these benefits is that they can offer individual employees group rates that they would be unlikely to find on their own.

They are extremely important for employees who want to fill the voids of coverage where their traditional benefits don’t give them the insurance they need based on varying life circumstances, current situations, and down the road for those who plan ahead.

There are many voluntary benefit options that can be added to an employee wellness program that will cost the employer little, to no cost.

Which voluntary benefits would be a good complement to coincide with an employee wellness program?

As we mentioned above, a typical wellness program will include healthy eating habits, stress-related programs, weight loss, quit smoking, flu shots, etc. As these are all excellent options to include, the below voluntary benefits might be right for employers who are looking to create or enhance their current programs. These wellness benefits will range from health, financial, mental and more.


Remember though, you must do a needs assessment and survey your employees to truly figure out what type of voluntary benefits would make sense to add to your program.

Personal finance planning

Employee ‘wealth wellness’ is a real thing. As 40 percent of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency if one arose, they will ultimately be forced to use credit cards or access their 401ks too early to help offset these debts. For a lot of people, financial planning and keeping track is just too much for them to handle, or they don’t realize the impact of what smart money practices will do for them in the long run.

Having an expert outsider take a look at finances and to help them manage them will be really eye-opening for those who didn’t realize how much they’re really bleeding financially.

Identity theft

Data breaches are the real deal, and many people today aren’t aware of the risky behavior they are actually practicing online at work, school and/or home. This behavior constantly leads to malware, trojan and phishing attacks which can ultimately compromise financial, medical, social security and more date-related information.

This service will help keep employees well by offering account monitoring and freezing by a 3rd party when they see suspicious activity happening with any enrollee accounts.

Pre-paid legal

At some point, people are going to need an attorney for something. Whether that be to discuss legal issues, create wills and trusts, review documentation and contracts, dispute traffic violations and more. This service will keep your employees well with access to an attorney if any legal issues arise. This type of plan is convenient, affordable and employees will be confident knowing they have the support of a licensed attorney.

Educational training, webinars, conferences access

Employees feel more satisfied with their careers when there is an opportunity for growth. Employers should be willing to invest in their employees by offering them professional development opportunities. After all, employee growth is tied to company success. Popular classes today that employees are looking at include blockchain, advanced management and project management training.

voluntary benefits

Pet insurance

Our pets are our family. Americans spend nearly $70 billion per year on them. When a family member gets injured or sick, it can place a lot of emotional strain and stress on an employee at the office. When their minds are on their loved ones or are distressed, their work can fall to the wayside. By offering this benefit as part of an employee wellness program, those enrolled will feel secure knowing that their financial obligations to keep their furry family member healthy will be covered.

Digital healthcare services / Telehealth

In the modern age, the internet rules. People can do their shopping, apply for jobs, do their banking and more. Shouldn’t they be able to have access to a doctor over it as well?

According to Employee Benefits news,

Telehealth is a way for healthcare providers to deliver services through telecommunications services that enable patients to get the advice of a specialist remotely. It’s a great opportunity for employers to increase the availability of healthcare services, reduce costs and boost organizational productivity while also making employees happy simultaneously.

Telehealth offers the following benefits:

  • It offers benefits with access to a global network and can provide services that exceed traditional plans
  • There are significant savings to cost and time for employees
  • Telehealth can help with an early diagnosis which can help with future savings

A Smarter Approach to Benefits Management

Increasing employee engagement and communication, navigating the challenges of ACA compliance, and seamlessly handling the transfer of employee voluntary selections to appropriate carriers during Open Enrollment are all elements of benefits administration technology that employers today are looking to add most.

Benefits brokers win big when they partner their offerings with a cloud-based human capital management (HCM) platform—and its automated HR/payroll modules—that they offer to their clients. The technology available helps employers automate crucial workflows in the benefits management arena to simplify the process for both administrators managing the platform and for employees utilizing it.

The beauty of an automated HCM platform is that data is corralled in a single-source database which allows for the free flow of information to transfer internally and/or externally to third-party vendors via built-in integrations. Cloud-based, HCM technology promotes efficiencies to both end users and administrators by automating manual tasks and workflows, reducing the need for paper, customizing impactful reports, therefore saving hours of time, money, and more.

Benefits Brokers also win by improving their overall sales and by providing their clients with new technology that can scale to meet the needs of a companies’ ever-changing requirements over the long-term. By providing your clients with HCM technology that works, over time, they will continue to want to use it, as well as potentially add more modules to improve other areas of their HR operations.

Find out more about how the Unum Voluntary Benefits Widget increased sales for Arcoro’s partner, Alexander & Company, by clicking here!

The Arcoro Solution

The Arcoro cloud-based, automated HRIS platform is the perfect option for benefits brokers who need a strong HCM, benefits management and ACA compliance partner to combine within their current benefits offerings. With seamless integrations to top carriers such as Unum, Aflac, BlueCross BlueShield and more, consultants partnering with Arcoro have seen their opportunity-share rise in the market they are chasing.

The full HCM platform also offers modules in the following areas:

  • Benefits Management
  • ACA Compliance
  • Employee self-service (Employee Portal)
  • Payroll Processing
  • Recruiting Applicant Tracking
  • Time and Attendance
  • Reporting
  • Performance Management and Feedback Delivery
  • Online Learning Management
  • Succession Planning
  • Employee Onboarding
  • Surveys
  • Job Posting and more

Related Reading:

Voluntary Benefits: An Essential Guide for Employers and Brokers

The Brokers’ Guide to HR Automation

Your No-Nonsense Guide to HSA Contribution Limits and More for Employers

3 Reasons Why Combining Voluntary Benefits with an HDHP is a Win for Brokers

The Top Voluntary Benefits for Brokers to Offer in 2019

What these 5 Shocking Employee Benefits Statistics Really Mean for Your Broker Business

Stonewalling the Decline of ACA enrollment with HCM Technology

Explaining High-Deductible Plans to Employees

How to Improve Employee Engagement During Open Enrollment

5 Rising Voluntary Benefits Employers Should Offer to Their Employees

The Critical Illness Insurance Market Continues to trend upwards in the U.S.

Only 22 Percent of People Know HSAs are Tax-Free

A Study on Federal Workers Shows Benefits of Flex Schedules