Are Employers Spending More Now on Employee Wellbeing?

Employers remain committed about encouraging and promoting workforce wellbeing according to a recent report.

While the per-employee cost spent on wellbeing is slightly down from 2018 ($762 vs. $784), the 2019 number remains well above $260, the amount reported in 2009, according to the 10th annual Health and Well-Being Survey from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health.

The survey, which polled 164 “jumbo, large and mid-sized” employers globally, revealed that employers specifically in the U.S. expect to spend an average of $3.6 million each on wellbeing programs in 2019. The main reason? Healthier and more productive people.

“More employers view their investments in health and well-being as integral to deploying the most engaged, productive and competitive workforce possible,” said Brian Marcotte, NBGH president and CEO. Marcotte also noted that the employer focus is holistic, with physical health being a component rather than the lone priority.

“Employers recognize that their employees have different needs and want to engage in different ways,” Marcotte added. “Financial and emotional stress, for example, are major detractors from work performance and employers are doubling down on these areas.”

While there are various components to corporate well-being programs, the study revealed that 40 percent of well-being budgets will be applied to financial incentives that encourage employees–and their spouses/domestic partners – to participate. In fact, the percentage of employers offering incentives to spouses and domestic partners increased to 58 percent in 2019, up from 54 percent in 2018, while the average incentive for spouses/domestic partners increased to $601, up from $596 in 2018.

While 57 of all employers provide financial incentives to employees by reducing their healthcare-plan premiums, 34 percent offer incentives by funding an employee’s healthcare account, such as a health savings account.

Overall, employers are expected to continue to focus on financial incentives as a key benefit within wellbeing platforms in the future, as 33 percent of employers indicated they plan to continue to increase the amount of financial incentives for employees over the next 3-5 years.

Robert Kennedy, senior vice president of Fidelity Workplace Consulting, said that as more employers recognize the relationship between employee wellbeing and productivity, wellbeing programs have taken on an increasingly meaningful role in business strategies. In the meantime, he stressed the importance of pursuing a holistic strategy.

“Implementing programs that take a total wellbeing approach, designing programs for a global workforce and aligning wellbeing programs with the company’s healthcare strategy are just a few of the steps employers can take to ensure their well-being program continues to deliver maximum benefit to their organization,” he said.

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at