Workplace wellness programs are on the rise thanks to increasing demand from workers who have found themselves with serious bargaining power following the 2021 Great Resignation. In 2011, just 32 percent of private-sector employees had access to wellness programs. Now, 42 percent of workers are able to enjoy those benefits. “Employees understand they have options,” said University of Phoenix Career Advisor Ricklyn Woods. “People were thankful just to have a job in prior years, but that’s not the case in today’s job market. Employees want work-life balance and jobs where they feel like they are making a difference.”
In response, increases in wellness-oriented benefits are up across a number of metrics including paid personal leave, paid family leave, paid sick leave, employee assistance programs, and wellness programs.
Workplace wellness programs bring tangible benefits to both employees and employers, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They note that employees who participate in these programs are generally healthier and more productive and have higher morale. As for companies, those who offer these programs get a real return on their investment. According to the Chamber, “Programs that follow best practice guidelines return $2 to $3 for each dollar invested.”
In a related informational guide, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recommends a number of strategies for workplaces to input wellness programs, which can include subsidized gym memberships, employee discounts, walking challenges, access to dieticians, yoga classes, seminars, health fairs and smoking cessation programs. They advise companies to take a step-by-step approach including planning, creating a communications program, evaluating the workplace setting, implementing programs, working with their health plan, engaging the community, evaluating the process and impact and modifying as necessary.
While walking challenges and access to yoga classes can improve health, culture and morale, employees today are looking for more than a few feel-good measures from employers. They are interested in companies that offer mental health support, flexible schedules, remote opportunities and adequate paid time off.
As workers apply for positions, it’s important for them to research a company’s wellness benefits and to inquire during the interview process about the resources that are available and the company’s overall attitude toward self-care. While an employee may not have much leverage in convincing human resources to increase paid time off, there are many other businesses with a strong wellness culture that may be a better fit. “At the end of the day, your well-being is your well-being,” said Woods. “If you raise a question about mental health benefits or time-off policies that result in you not getting the job, you probably don’t want that job.”
Especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a growing demand for additional wellness resources at colleges, too. University of Phoenix has long had its Life Resource Center, an online portal accessible 24 hours a day that serves as a central hub for the University’s many mental health and wellness resources. Students can go to the Life Resource Center to find counseling, financial consulting, life coaching and peer support groups around a number of topics including addiction, parenting, LGBTQ+ identities and grief. Students are granted several free counseling sessions available in person, by phone or online.
“Our students expressed interest in mental health resources as well as a need for counseling,” said Mari Lopez, vice president of Student Support & Specialty Services at University of Phoenix. “Although it is a virtual portal, the Life Resource Center is unique in offering the option of face-to-face counseling as well as virtual sessions.”
Through the Life Resource Center, students can gain valuable life advice from industry leaders through live webinars on topics like budgeting, investing, health and wellness and nutritional guidance. There are financial consulting services as well and help around stress-inducing topics like budgeting and tax preparation.
University of Phoenix is dedicated to providing education and career opportunities to people of all backgrounds and experiences and offers resources both inside and outside the classroom to support academic success. Through its Life Resource Center, the University provides counseling and support services for students to manage their life challenges while balancing the demands of school and work in order to successfully complete their degree programs. University of Phoenix also meets the needs of adult learners with flexible schedules, online learning, affordability and coursework designed to prepare students with career options in high-demand industries as well as Career Services for Life® commitment to active students and graduates. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.