Post-pandemic, wellbeing programs 'absolute necessity,' says expert

'Management will be evaluated by boards on whether or not they have these programs in place'

Post-pandemic, wellbeing programs 'absolute necessity,' says expert

“Health and wellness and employee wellbeing are very much now in the forefront of what HR executives are dealing with. I don’t think these things are viewed anymore as nice-to-have, they’re must-have programs.”

So says Michael Peters, CEO of Carebook Technologies in Toronto, in discussing how critically important it is today for executives to show they truly care for employees by providing more customized products.

“People are looking for the ROI on these solutions. There really is meaningful evidence now that you need these programs to get the best out of your people and I don’t think there’s any hesitation anymore in the C-suite to find dollars to fund these programs, it’s just making sure that you have the right programs and that they’re returning on that investment.”

The new digital health landscape

The business of providing health benefits has changed greatly in the wake of COVID, according to Peters.

“The pandemic shone an incredibly bright spotlight on the importance of mental health; the importance of resilience, of having programs that can really ameliorate conditions within any employee workforce. Employers are recognizing that these are absolutely necessary programs that both help with general productivity but are also really critical to ensure that that there’s not an unintended risk that’s essentially injected into their platform.”

But it’s not only HR professionals who will be judged on how great of a wellbeing product is being provided — the spotlight will be shone at the top levels of the organizations.

“I think increasingly management teams will be evaluated by their boards on whether or not they have these programs in place, whether or not they’re providing appropriate supports for their employees because it’s seen as an absolute necessity,” says Peters.

Besides physical and mental health, employers are also being challenged by the workforce to provide financial wellbeing tools, he says, especially in today’s context of high inflation and recessionary pressures.

“The issue becomes one of financial stress, leading to physical and mental impacts. That’s absolutely within the ability of an employer to give people the tools to make choices in their lives that are going to help them and give them relief. The conversations are changing but what’s not changing is the overall importance of looking for mental-health supports and programming within an employer context.”

Many employers are failing at providing enough mental-health care for employees, found a survey.

HR should lead the dialogue around mental health

For HR, effecting real change begins with simple conversations at the employee level.

“It begins with destigmatizing mental health broadly and you do that by ensuring that it’s being discussed, that people are examining these issues and what’s driving these issues on a day-to-day level and making a space that’s very comfortable for people to raise their hands and say, ‘I’m not having the best day today,’ and have people rally around them with without any sense of weakness or isolation,” says Peters.

Helping them along this pathway are the depth and breadth of new health solutions that didn’t exist 10 years ago, where only “very antiquated solutions” existed in the marketplace, he says.

“That’s where I think HR executives can take a really significant leadership role. They can partner with their executive teams and deliver a very important moment for their corporations. They can really push for not only productivity but the overall sense that the corporate organism, the corporate organization, literally cares for their people because of the slogan that your employees are your most important asset.”

“Every executive would largely say that’s broadly true but what you put underneath that; what’s under the hood is really the question and the programming that’s available now is just phenomenal,” says Peters.

Relatively soon, things in the digital health-care space might change even more profoundly, according to Peters.

“In the really not too distant future, where gamification becomes a really major part of this, is where people will pick up their phones, and they’ll play for 10, 15 minutes and based on their answers and the adventures they’ve had, they’ll be able to meaningfully identify, what are the issues that we can predict for you and here are the things that we suggest you might do to lead a better life.”

Carebook recently closed a deal in which CoreHealth, its wholly owned subsidiary, expanded its partnership with AG Health Partner, a provider of holistic well-being solutions in Belgium.

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