Does Offering a Wellness Stipend Really Incentivize Potential Employees?

January 4, 2023・7 mins read
Does Offering a Wellness Stipend Really Incentivize Potential Employees?

59% of businesses, large and small, offer health benefits to their employees. While most companies extend an opportunity for health benefits, they may not include wellness benefits or stipends. Health stipends include reimbursable premiums related to:

  • Health care
  • Vision
  • Dental
  • Prescription
  • Chiropractic care

Similarly, wellness stipends are taxable benefits related to an employee’s physical and mental wellness needs. Wellness is a crucial part of an employee’s ability to work happily. So, while most businesses offer much-needed health benefits, they might not be as much of an incentive to employees unless they also offer wellness initiatives. 52% of employees think health and wellness programs are necessary in the workplace and are 1.6 times more likely to stay with their employers when they have them. This is likely because 74% of employees are more likely to have job satisfaction when they’re physically and mentally healthy. Any well-running organization should use health and wellness incentives to ensure the health and well-being of their employees. Seeing a business employ workers who are mentally and physically well will create a greater desire for potential employees to work there. Furthermore, the current employees will have more reason and willingness to stay.

What are wellness programs, and what do they provide?

Workplace wellness programs encourage staff members to live more fitness-driven lifestyles and to focus on their entire well-being. Also considered to be wellness spending accounts or wellness allowances, they’re similar to health programs but have key differences.

Wellness programs have a different focus than health programs. Effective wellness programs drive to promote mental and physical health through programs and services.

Wellness programs have a different focus than health programs. Effective wellness programs drive to promote mental and physical health through programs and services. These programs are taxable and can be paid out on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis—similar to how paid leave is typically compensated. Companies can pay these out through an expense reimbursement or lifestyle spending account. They also shouldn’t bed considered an alternative to health programs. Wellness programs can be personalized to fit the needs of the company and the individual employees. The choices are vast and can be coupled with other services to boost the wellness of the employees.

Types of wellness stipends include a focus on mental wellness:

  • Smoking cessation programs – Smokers take more breaks. They can be less productive in the workplace, being the cause of about $4,430 in lost wages. Providing resources to help employees quit smoking will improve their wellness and productivity in the workplace.
  • Counseling – Reducing poor mental health should be a priority in the workplace. Stress contributes to poor work quality, reduced employee retention, and an increased rate of self-harm and suicides. Offering to pay for counseling services introduces a wide range of mental healthcare associated with anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and more.
  • Self-care services – there is a range of services provided in the realm of self-care. An employer can begin by paying employees for massage or spa treatments to promote relaxation and meditation. Other products and services include beauty and stress relief products, as well as subscription sleeping applications or monthly wellness packages.
  • Paid leave and vacation – having regular time away from work is a proven way to reduce employee burnout. Allowing employees to take time to meditate and live their lives without worrying about work or lacking in compensation is a great incentive.

Types of wellness stipends include a focus on physical wellness:

  • Fitness memberships – employers pay some or all of the cost of gym memberships. This stipend allows employees to have more freedom to work out. Exercising is known to improve self-esteem and cognitive function, which goes hand-in-hand with employee functionality. These memberships could also include paid access to health coaches or classes focused on yoga or nutrition.
  • Weight loss and management plan memberships – commercial weight loss plans like Weight Watchers are paid to help employees who struggle with their weight. Those who struggle with obesity are associated with an increased number of days out of work. Individuals with access to group support are more likely to lose weight and keep the weight off.
  • Wearable fitness and health monitoring devices – Wearable technology that lets people keep track of their activity, heart rates, walking speeds, and more is statistically proven to help individuals stay motivated in their wellness ventures. Offering to pay all or some of the cost of a fitness tracking device will lead the way in providing wellness stipends for employees.
  • Meal delivery kits, services, and subscriptions – healthy dining options are out there for pre-made meals with more nutritional value. Some are subscription based, and many are on-call catering services. They can provide food for employees with food sensitivity, allergies, and diabetes, and employers can help pay for this incentive.

Additional options that employees value

There are many other small tokens of stipends available to incentivize current and potential employees. These could include:

  • Casual Fridays
  • Having healthy snacks available in the café or break room
  • Paid admittance to wellness events like marathons
  • Initiating fitness challenges like walking 100 miles a week for a prize

Why businesses should offer wellness stipends

Individuals looking for a job are looking for the best match for them in terms of pay, company culture, and benefits provided. Worthy incentives give them more to consider when applying for a job. Valuing new employees' wellness is likely to make them feel more welcomed. Providing employees with robust benefits packages will attract and keep employees working for the company. Wellness stipends are taxable. Therefore, the activities, programs, and incentives employees choose are eligible for reimbursement. This allows them to take the reins on their finances and be more in control of what they care the most about. Efficient wellness programs offer employers a tool for encouraging healthy behavior and changes in negative habits among their employees. After a while of experiencing the personal benefits of their healthier lifestyles, they’ll inherit wellness attitudes without seeking rewards. As a result, wellness stipends give employees the option to live stronger, longer lives by obtaining support for their mental health and controlling their chronic ailments. Overall, this can help reduce further health risks for workers by preventing illnesses and contributing to employees’ mood and work potency.

Employee wellness related to your business' health

Employees’ health directly affects a business’s ability to make profits, retain employees, and keep a positive working environment. Workers who are mentally well are:

  • More productive
  • Happier
  • Engaged
  • Present in the workplace

79% of employees believe the wellness programs available to them helped them be as productive as possible at work. Theoretically, the amount of savings a company will receive from the lack of absences due to physical or mental health matters and constant recruiting due to massive turnovers balances out against the cost of any wellness stipend.

Awareness of the company’s mental and physical well-being creates a positive working environment.

Wrap up

Wellness programs are becoming more and more common in the workplace. Wellness incentive programs are great ways to attract and employ new employees and retain the ones a company already has. Awareness of the company’s mental and physical well-being creates a positive working environment. It promotes company culture by giving employees the incentive to live healthier lifestyles, increasing their engagement and happiness. You can choose to mix and match the wide variety of wellness stipends to meet the needs of individual employees as they see fit. This ensures they can be reimbursed for their efforts toward a better life.

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