Business Group on Health: A look at employers' evolving strategies around well-being

Well-being programs continue to be a central focus for employers, and they're evolving the reach of these offerings into new areas such as the social determinants of health, according to a new survey.

The Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments released their annual look at employers' strategies around wellness on Wednesday, and found nearly all of the 160 surveyed firms said they view well-being programs as a being key to their overall strategy. These employers said they intend to continue funding these programs at current levels.

In addition, more than half (51%) said they plan to build out their well-being programs to tackle social needs in the next three to five years.

The survey participants represent a broad swath of industries, and 60% have global reach, the Business Group said.

Pamela Rich, a vice president at the Business Group who manages the organization's work around well-being and workforce strategy, told Fierce Healthcare that employers have gained a greater awareness in recent years about the impact social factors can have on overall health.

"They can offer really a broad portfolio of benefits and programs that support the health and well being of employees," she said. "But if those circumstances in which employees live, work and play aren't also attended to or if they detract from employee health, then the benefits and programs that they offer may not have the intended effect that they'd like them to."

Beyond social needs, 76% of those surveyed said they intend to provide reproductive or family planning benefits to employees this year, up from 73% a year ago. Most (86%) said they plan to offer such benefits in 2025, the survey found.

Rich said that benefits in this space are high value offerings for recruitment and retention of top talent, and it's been a major area of growth as employers evolve their wellness strategy.

The report also found that 43% of global employers offer counseling services either on-site or virtually, up from 33% in 2023. More employers are also looking at incentive programs, with 22% offering them in 2024 compared to 16% in 2023.

Offering virtual options and incentives are increasingly attractive giving a more remote or hybrid workforce, Rich said. Virtual tools can also be valuable options to address social needs and equity challenges, she said.

"Virtual offerings are important because they allow our members, who are often multi-state and multinational, to scale those offerings across their entire workforce, and all the geographies that they offer them in," she said.