Last month, PwC released the results of their new Health and Well-being Touchstone Survey, which included respondents from a broad range of industries, company sizes and locations around the world.
So what trends did it reveal?
1. Employee benefits are bigger than ever.
Employee benefits are crucial for attracting talented candidates. They’re also a measure that prospective employees use to compare one position to another. Nearly 40 percent of employers have already expanded their offerings and nearly 50 percent plan to do so.
2. But costs of care are rising.
While employers remain committed to providing benefits, they're rethinking their approach to healthcare.
- Cost shifting. Some are shifting the burden, offsetting costs by expanding employee cost-sharing or increasing employee contributions.
- High-deductible health plans (HDHPs). HDHPs have emerged as another way to control costs. The number of employers offering HDHPs is up by 62 percent from last year. HDHPs that are compatible with health savings accounts are proving most popular.
- Private exchanges. About a third of employers are thinking about moving their workforce to a private exchange within the next three years.
3. Change is good.
To control costs, some employers made changes to the plans they offer and saw an annual increase of only 4.5 percent in 2013. Conversely, those who left their plans untouched saw costs rise by 7.9 percent in 2013.
4. Where options are concerned, more is more.
Assembling a palette of benefit options has become a trend, as workers (especially millennials) look not just for the quality of the choices presented, but also for the range.
5. Wellness programs are hot.
Most employers (71 percent) offer wellness programs, which are attractive to both employers and employees. For the latter, these programs present more choice (a benefit in itself) as well as an opportunity for a better lifestyle (also a goal in its own right). For employers, wellness programs can foster a healthier workforce, translating to lower costs. Biometric screenings, body mass index measurements and health risk questionnaires are quite popular.
6. Wellness includes chronic disease management.
Some employers (53 percent) offer programs for managing diseases, such as diabetes, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. More than half of employers consider diabetes programs to be the most valuable of these. In any case, PwC Principal Mike Thompson expects disease management programs to grow. "I think this is an area not going away soon," he said.
7. Wellness is holistic.
Emotional and financial health matter too. Roughly 25 to 30 percent of employers are expanding their wellness offerings to include a focus on financial and emotional well-being as well as social, community and career health.