Employee-wellness-200x312Did you know that June is Employee Well-being Month? That makes now a good time to take a good long look at your employees to assess their health and happiness, and what you can do to improve it.

We talk a lot about workplace wellness programs and their effect on improving the overall wellbeing of your employees. But the fact is that spending more money on new initiatives isn’t always necessary to improve employees’ health and outlook.

In fact, there may be a simpler solution that’s been right in front of you all along, though you might have overlooked it: employee benefits.

When #HRWins and Namely surveyed employees and human resources professionals working for companies with less than 5,000 people, well over half of them cited core benefits like health insurance as being the benefit or perk that made them feel most engaged. So, while weight loss contests and step challenges certainly do their part to improve employees’ health, there are much more important pieces to the puzzle.

Health insurance keeps employees at their healthiest.

There are a number of factors that can keep workers from taking the best care of themselves. Stress can make them neglect their well-being. Financial strains might deter them from visiting a doctor and facing a copay or other out-of-pocket costs. But when they have excellent health care coverage, they’re more likely to seek the care they need.

It’s true costs are on the rise, but there are still many ways to make health insurance work for any budget. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) allow employees to save money tax-free for medical expenses. They also allow employers to make contributions. With money set aside for the care they need, employees can be more conscientious in making good decisions for their health.

While free healthy snacks and group fitness classes are great wellness perks to offer, there’s no substitute for the security of a solid health plan that can stop the poor health cycle before it ever starts. With adequate, affordable coverage, employees can be empowered to tackle their health issues head on.

Voluntary benefits allow employees to tailor their own benefits package.

Health insurance is a good place to start. But beyond that, the needs of each individual employee can vary greatly. While one person may value dental and vision insurance, another might forego those in favor of life and disability insurance. For that reason, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to providing employee benefits.

And employees don’t mind footing most or all of the bill to get what they need. When MetLife surveyed 1,203 employees about their benefits, 60 percent said they were willing to cover more of the cost of their benefits in order to have more choices that better met their needs.

Voluntary benefits allow employees to fill the gaps in their coverage by purchasing things like cancer policies and accident insurance. There are also a number of newer, non-traditional benefits to address more specific health and wellness concerns. Take for example Telemedicine, a service that allows employees to access a doctor via a mobile app for simple illnesses.

Benefits help reduce stress.

Many employers don’t realize how much their employees stress out over money. According to the American Psychological Association, 72 percent of adults say they’re sometimes stressed about money. Almost 1/4 said they often experience extreme financial stress. This type of anxiety can and does have an impact on employee health and work productivity.

By taking some of the financial worries off the shoulders of your employees, you can free them up to focus on the task at hand. Consider out-of-the-box benefits like student loan repayment assistance, a perk that almost half of respondents said they’d prefer over contributions to a 401(k) plan in a recent Iontuition survey.

Other ways to eliminate stress are through workshops and seminars on topics like money management and financial planning. A worry-free employee is a happy employee. And happy employees are more likely to care about staying healthy and performing their best.