Despite plenty of low-cost healthcare options, the majority of U.S. employers are expecting to change their full-time employee health benefit programs within the next three years, according to a Towers Watson study analyzing responses from 444 midsize to large U.S. organizations in January 2015.
Employers are exploring new options for delivering employee care through innovative methods, focusing on increasing employee engagement and well-being. That’s not a bad move, considering millennials, who make up a majority of the workforce, may not miss having health insurance at all.
A recent report by Aon Hewitt found millennials put a lower priority on medical care than other generations. Aon’s 2014 Consumer Health Mindset report features a joint survey of more than 2,700 U.S. employees and their dependants analyzing different generations’ perspectives toward health and wellness. The report found only 39 percent of millennials, compared to 69 percent of baby boomers, believe preventative care is important to stay healthy.
Despite their lack of interest in prevention, millennials -- more than other generations -- are likely to embrace employer support for better health and well-being.
With that in mind, here are some benefits that may mean more to today’s employees than health insurance:
1. A healthy work environment.
More than half of millennials in Aon Hewitt’s survey said, "living or working in a healthy environment" is influential to their personal health, compared to 42 percent of generation X and 35 percent of baby boomers.
Employees want their workspace, the environment they spend most of their time in, to be free from negativity and toxic behaviors. Perform an audit to get rid of any toxic behaviors such as gossip, distrust or bullying.
Create an environment of trust, honesty and fairness by communicating with employees openly and regularly. To start, invite employees to provide feedback about how they feel at work and ask for suggestions to improve the work environment.
Related: 5 Healthy Hacks for Busy Offices
2. Positive peer relationships.
Eighty-nine percent of employees believe work relationships matter to the quality of life, according to responses from 716 full-time workers in Globoforce’s 2014 Mood Tracker Report. The report also found employees with 25 or more friends at work are more highly engaged (69 percent) and love the company they work for (71 percent).
Help foster growth of peer relationships among employees with regular social events and team bonding activities. Organize monthly movie nights, weekly lunches or team-building events that require collaboration. Let employees take an active role by assigning responsibilities to each person to help plan activities.
3. Sharable and meaningful milestones.
Employees want to celebrate milestones with their peers, Globoforce found. An overwhelming 98 percent of employees said milestones are a more positive experience and 70 percent said they felt more valued when peers are included.
Do more than just acknowledge significant dates like anniversaries and birthdays with a certificate. Celebrate with the entire team and make a big deal about milestones, both personal and team performance-based. Create traditions employees look forward to based on celebrations, like new client ice cream parties or birthday karaoke.
4. Incentives to encourage healthy behaviors.
For next year’s health care initiatives, 66 percent of employers are focusing on developing a workplace culture where employees are responsible for their health, according to Towers Watson, and 51 percent plan to adopt the use of financial incentives to encourage healthy behaviors.
Develop a rewards program that incentivizes employees for taking care of themselves. For instance, use an app like Aspire to give employees perks like game or attraction tickets as rewards for healthy behaviors like exercising daily, eating well or getting enough sleep.
5. Resources to help them take care of themselves.
To play an effective role in encouraging employee health, employers need to understand what motivates employees to take care of themselves. Aon Hewitt found the motivation to be healthy for more than half of millennials has more to do with looking good than avoiding illness.
Knowing this, show employees how poor health affects energy and appearance as a strategy to keep them engaged in wellness activities. Since being in the office all day is an obstacle when it comes to working toward that fabulous beach bod, incorporate a fitness program into the office culture. Use an app like FitBliss to help develop a group fitness routine and track progress.