CHROs eye new well-being benefits for 2024 amid declining engagement

Dive Brief:

  • Nearly half of CHROs surveyed for The Conference Board’s CHRO Confidence Index said their organizations plan to offer new well-being benefits this year as engagement levels declined year over year in 2024’s first quarter, the organization said March 22.
  • The vast majority of respondents said businesses are at least somewhat responsible for employee well-being. Budgetary plans appear to reflect this, with only 5% of CHROs saying their organizations decreased spending on well-being this year, while 1 in 4 said their well-being budgets increased.
  • Mental health initiatives were the most common category of new benefits on the docket for 2024, The Conference Board found, followed by physical health and fitness initiatives, financial well-being initiatives and work-life balance initiatives.

Dive Insight:

Workers, contending with cascading crises in the broader world, want more support from their employers in the form of well-being benefits, according to MetLife survey data published earlier this month. Financial well-being support and mental health support are particularly needed, MetLife found.

This may not surprise employers given a number of warning signs that have cropped up since the pandemic. Last year, most large employers reported an increase in mental health issues among their workforces. And in a 2023 survey by Indeed and Forrester Consulting, fewer than one-third of employees said they were thriving in their current jobs.

Despite those signs — and employer efforts — utilization of mental health benefits may be stunningly low. Sources who previously spoke to HR Dive attribute this to a variety of factors, from confusion about how to access mental health benefits to a lack of time to take advantage of needed services.

On top of these issues, there may be cultural considerations for benefits teams. Black workers, for example, face particularly long-running prejudices and stereotypes when confronted with mental health issues that their organizations may fail to acknowledge.

Employers might seek to take a holistic view of employee well-being as part of their talent retention strategies, Diana Scott, leader of The Conference Board’s U.S. human capital center, said in a press release. Well-being strategies can encompass a wide range of initiatives; flexible work options, work-life balance policies and recognition are just a few of the areas for which employers have sought improvement as they seek to address well-being.