Excellent employee benefit programs can help recruiters attract top talent, and keep that talent from leaving. They can improve the physical, mental, and financial health of employees, and reduce costs associated with healthcare, loss of productivity, and turnover.

In order to reach and even surpass those goals, many wellness programs are introducing some interesting elements.

Here are a few corporate wellness trends to watch for in 2018:

1. Technology

Technology keeps getting smarter. Employees who are used to experiencing the ever-improving interactions they have with technology in the consumer and entertainment spaces will be disappointed if their employer’s offerings don’t keep up.

Employees will expect wellness support to be guided, interactive, smart, personalized, and mobile. Exciting new healthcare tools can also help those with chronic conditions manage their health.

2. Mental Health

From the coverage of mental health costs like therapy and counseling, to education about self-care, mindfulness, stress reduction and sleep, it is increasingly important that wellness programs extend beyond the physical.

Expect the national discussion about sexual harassment and violence to lead to less stigma and more support for programs that help to deal with trauma, violence, and recovery. Many health related studies are tying their research to mental health results with the understanding that a work life balance is the goal.

3. Incentives

As more and more data emerges showing the power of incentives to affect employee wellness outcomes, they are becoming more popular, plentiful, and inventive. U.S. News cites companies using a lottery system with prizes including such as theater or sports tickets to encourage employees to make better choices when it comes to their health.

As wellness programs seek to encourage, engage, and reward their employees, the incentives become more creative and, in some cases, more lucrative for the employee.

4. Privacy

As employers offer more tools that do everything from track employee locations and sleep habits to decoding their DNA, the possibility of employers having access to such personal data will become a subject for discussion.

Employee education and total transparency and about what information is actually available to the employer will become more important as a condition for participation.

5. The Current Job Market

In a tight labor market, finding and keeping employees is a primary concern, and employers will seek advantages wherever they can find them. An exceptional wellness package will help a company stand out.

Leveraging the wellness programs as a key aspect of the benefits package will help to establish the inherent value of the program to the employee, and will help to quickly illustrate a healthy corporate culture.

6. Compliance and Change

As always, Human Resources – including employee wellness – and compliance issues are tightly intertwined.

Concerns about health information privacy will continue to be at the forefront, and 2018 will be even more interesting because of potential changes to rules for employee wellness programs that are being considered under H.R. 1313, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act.

Human Resources departments will benefit from understanding the current and upcoming rules and regulations that will affect the types of benefit programs offered to employees.

7. Financial Health

Financial health is an emerging component. Employees experience significant stress related to financial issues, and employers bear a heavy responsibility for the financial health of their employees.

This Fast Company article predicts financial education, assessments, action plans, and debt reduction to emerge as an offering of corporate wellness programs.

Employee wellness programs are becoming an ever-increasingly important tool for employers to attract top talent and improve the quality of life for their workforce.

Understanding these seven emerging trends in the health benefit market is a way for your company to reap the highest return on your valuable employee wellness program investment.

Let us know what you think.

Thank you,

Max Kahn