Executive Summary

The aftermath of the pandemic has fueled a tug-of-war between employers advocating for a return to the office and employees resisting the departure from remote work. Organizations are carefully navigating this transitional phase, redefining employee benefits to address the new demands of hybrid work models and the simultaneous surge in healthcare costs. This evolving approach to work structures, combined with financial stability concerns, demands a strategic approach toward allocating resources for employee benefits. To effectively evaluate benefits options, leaders must consider the impact of related policies and programs on both employee well-being and organizational health.

Wellable’s seventh annual Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report is designed to guide organizations in making well-informed decisions regarding employee wellness benefits. This report is distinctly shaped by data collected directly from health insurance brokers, who represent thousands of employers and millions of employees. It offers a detailed analysis of investment trends, key factors influencing decision-making, and criteria used by organizations to evaluate wellness vendors. This year’s edition features a dedicated section on best practices for wellness programs, providing practical, actionable strategies. These insights are particularly crucial for HR leaders as they plan and implement wellness initiatives in 2024.

Decision Influencers

Respondents were also asked how certain criteria influenced their employee benefits decisions. The escalating cost of benefits is the most significant influencer, causing organizations to tread cautiously as they strengthen their benefits packages.

decision-influencers-bubble
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Vendor Criteria

In addition to exploring areas of investment and influencing factors, respondents were asked what criteria had the greatest impact on vendor selection. Pricing, flexibility, and customizability emerged as key determinants, underscoring the current focus on cost-efficiency and tailored solutions for employee wellness benefits.

Pricing has become increasingly critical, with 89% of respondents considering it a top three criterion for selecting wellness benefits vendors. This is a 16-percentage point increase from last year, highlighting a heightened cost-consciousness among organizations driven by the rising costs of benefits and continued economic uncertainty.

Flexibility and customizability maintain importance, ranking second at 59%. Organizations planning to increase their investment in wellness benefits place a higher emphasis on flexibility (74%), compared to those maintaining their current level of investment (49%). This suggests that as companies commit more resources to wellness, they seek solutions that can be tailored to their specific needs.

Percentage Of Employers Choosing Flexibility & Customizability As Top Three Criteria

flexibility-customizability-criteria

Customer Service is also gaining prominence in the vendor selection process alongside pricing. In 2023, 45% of respondents ranked customer service among their top three criteria, a figure that has risen to 50% this year, reflecting a growing recognition of its importance in ensuring effective and responsive wellness program implementation.

Reporting and measurement have decreased in priority, now valued by less than half (41%) of respondents. This may reflect the challenges in measuring the ROI of wellness benefits, along with the shift towards more qualitative assessments of effectiveness.

Innovation and technology have experienced a drastic drop, from 54% to 29%. While technological advancements continue to improve wellness offerings, the focus has shifted to how well these innovations deliver tangible results and improve customer experience. A sleek app or modern technology is no longer sufficient; efficacy and user experience are paramount.

Accessibility and inclusivity (22%) are emerging as important factors to cater to a diverse workforce.

Domain expertise (12%) and customer testimonials (0%) remain the least popular criteria.

Overall, the data reflects a pragmatic approach to vendor selection, focusing on cost-effectiveness, practical functionality, and the ability to meet diverse needs.

Best Practices For Wellness Programs

Finally, the survey asked respondents how often their clients employ six best practices that can optimize their wellness programs. Brokers were asked whether most of their clients, some of their clients, or few to none of their clients engaged in the associated practices. This section outlines how organizations can effectively implement these practices into their wellness programs.

How many of your clients invest in these programs?
Few to none clients do this
Some clients do this
Most clients do this
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Conclusion

Wellable’s 2024 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report highlights an ongoing evolution in employee wellness, shifting from traditional physical health-focused programs to more holistic, flexible, and personalized solutions. This approach expands the scope of health, addresses broader employee needs, and promotes inclusivity in wellness journeys. Organizations are increasingly focused on the proactive management of high-cost chronic conditions to mitigate rising healthcare costs. Amidst the complexities of return-to-office strategies, mental health remains a central focus, and there’s a growing adoption of adaptable benefits that can be integrated into various work environments.

This report offers critical insights for HR leaders and organizations, highlighting the importance of wellness programs that are holistic, cost-effective, and adaptable, contributing to healthy, productive, and engaged workforces.

Explore The Data

When available, the report showcased seven years of historical data. The gradual year-over-year trends provide useful context for the drastic changes brought on by the pandemic and the following economic uncertainty.

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Investment Trends

2024 Investment Trends
Historical Comparison
  • Investing less
  • Investing same
  • Investing more
*Note: Totals in some charts may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

Decision Influencers

2024 Influencers
Historical Comparison
  • Minimally influenced
  • Somewhat influenced
  • Significantly influenced
*Note: Totals in some charts may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

Vendor Evaluation

Historical Comparison
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024

Appendix

Participant Profile

Respondent Locations

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Average Client Size

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Broker Years of Experience

Survey Questions

  1. Where are you based?
  2. How many years of experience do you have working in employee benefits or wellness?
  3. What’s your average client size?
  4. How much are your clients investing in employee wellness compared to the previous year?
  5. How much are your clients investing in the benefits listed below compared to the previous year?
  6. How much are your clients’ decisions influenced by the factors listed below?
  7. What are your top criteria when evaluating wellness vendors (choose top 3)?
  8. How many of your clients engage in the activities listed below?