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Posted November 9, 2021

2022 Wellness Trends


We’re still very much in the middle of the Great Resignation. A record 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August, breaking a record that had previously been set just months earlier. One of the ways to stem the tide of employee departures is through your benefits with a greater focus on employee wellness. With that in mind, here are five ways we expect employee wellness to trend in 2022. Or watch below to as we sit down with three HR leaders to learn more about what they’re doing in the midst of the Great Resignation. 

Creative financial support

Nearly half of all employees said in a poll that financial stress has caused them to either miss work or has negatively affected their productivity. Employers commonly address their employees’ financial wellness by offering a 401(k) or health savings account (HSA). However, there are creative ways employers can stand out from their recruiting competition, including: 

  • Lifestyle spending accounts. Employers are turning to lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs) as an incentive for their current employees and as a recruiting tool for new employees. These post-tax accounts can be customized to cover a variety of employee needs, although expenses related to physical, financial, and emotional wellness are the most common. 
  • Short-term loans. These are a great way to support employees in the event one of them experiences an unexpected cost, such as car repair or home repair. Employers are uniquely positioned to deduct loan payments through payroll deductions alleviating credit concerns for employers and employees. 
  • Student debt relief. From 2008 to 2018, the average cost of college tuition increased by more than 25 percent! This increasing burden has created an opportunity for employers to provide another way to support employees through student debt relief

Expanded mental health support

Mental health concerns have been top of mind for a while. For example, one survey of employees found that 76 percent of respondents reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the past year. That’s an increase from 59% in 2019. 

Kate Levesque, global benefits manager at WEX, said earlier this year on our Benefits Buzz podcast that she’s seen increases in enrollment into WEX’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and increases in medical/disability claims from employees. 

There are different ways that employers support their employees’ mental health needs. While some employers are focusing more on EAPs, other employers are making sure their employees have access to a variety of tools and resources, such as calming apps. 

Vaccine incentives

A recent Gallup poll found that U.S. employees have very strong views of vaccine mandates in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over one-third of employees surveyed strongly favor employer vaccine mandates, while 29 percent strongly oppose them. Despite that, the percentage of employers who are mandating COVID-19 vaccination or are planning to has more than doubled since the start of 2021. 

Employers who aren’t mandating COVID-19 vaccination can still take steps to protect their employees’ health by incentivizing employee vaccination. For example, a recent pilot study in North Carolina found that distributing a $25 cash card to anyone who would get vaccinated or drove someone to receive their first shot indicated that 41% in the study said the cash card was an important reason for vaccination. 

There is also an ongoing debate about the role employers can play in mandating vaccination. The Biden administration is currently pursuing efforts to require employers with at least 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccination, although a U.S. federal appeals court recently issued a stay on this. 

Wellness flexibility

Physical activity brings with it a number of benefits for employees, including a lower risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and depression. With many employees now working from home, employers may get more creative with supporting wellness, since there’s not always an office to promote activity in. 

Some employees may be able to take advantage of lower health insurance premiums if offered by the employer’s plan. Employers can also provide employees with an incentive (like $50 per month) that can be used toward any health-related costs. Employers can also provide a lifestyle spending account as a way to support physical, financial, and emotional wellbeing. 

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The information in this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own counsel. Employers should consult with their financial or legal advisors regarding compliance and other obligations when setting up an employee loan program


Hayden Goethe

Hayden is a content marketer for the benefits division of WEX. Hayden joined WEX in 2017 after nearly 15 years in journalism as an editor, writer, and designer. He's focused on providing thought leadership content to help our audiences get the most out of their benefits experience.

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