Last month, we spoke with Michele Rippey, Wellness Account Consultant at Aetna, about Wellness Dollars — a reserve fund held by insurance carriers that their clients who have negotiated an allowance can use toward qualifying wellness programs.
In the post-COVID world, the idea of maintaining an effective, attractive, and attainable wellness program for your employees is a must. But, with changes in structure and accessibility, we understand that finding a solution that is both financially sound and engaging can be tough.
Here’s a few of the key takeaways from our session that we hope will help you make the most of your annual wellness dollars.
The Challenge of Wellness Dollars
The COVID-19 pandemic had HR leaders on their feet trying to find ways to rethink wellness programs and strategies. Wellness dollars were previously thought of as a well-kept industry secret, but with organizations looking to stay nimble, cost-effective, and relevant, the cat was let out of the proverbial bag, and the allure of wellness dollars took off.
The problem, however, is not necessarily uncovering these funds, but trying to find legitimate, enticing ways to spend the allowances in full. This challenge has always been prevalent, but with stay-at-home orders on high, and group settings close to non-existent, it became clear that HR leaders needed to find more creative ways to get the most bang for their bucks.
“There was kind of a shift in the way that groups started using their wellness allowances,” said Rippey. “They had to start taking into consideration some options or opportunities that might be digital or the ability to send people things at home.”
Further expanding on that idea, Rippey stated, “I’ve had groups that are further expanding their focus with fitness programs that were offered digitally, kind of like some options that are integrated into Gympass.”
Making the Most of Annual Wellness Spend
So what can companies do to capitalize on their available funds?
- Rippey states it’s important to have a year-long gameplan, rather than a “see what happens approach.” Far too often, companies find that they only have a few days remaining to spend thousands of dollars left in their funds – if they don’t, they risk losing it altogether. Creating a strategy at the start of your term that fully accounts for every dollar is the best way to protect against unused funds.
- Think about how you can get creative with your allowance. Traditional means of spend are valid, but if they don’t fully max out your funds, Rippey suggests thinking outside the box. “Think of hosting a virtual health fair or webinar on well-being topics. Do you want to provide prizes and use your wellness allowance to cover those funds?”
During this time, there’s actually more flexibility than there had been previously to get creative with your wellness dollars. “During COVID, several carriers kind of extended their list of opportunities to be able to pay for certain things,” said Rippey. “In the past, customers were not really asking about using wellness allowances in these new ways that we’re now seeing. Exception items or extended items have changed due to the pandemic.”
What are you doing with your wellness dollars this year? Did you know that you can use your wellness dollars on corporate wellness benefits like Gympass? If not, we’d love to learn more about your corporate wellbeing goals and help you build a strong, employee-centric wellbeing program that is flexible and engaging.
For more information, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.