The 2015/2016 Willis Towers Watson Staying@Work Survey of U.S. employers found that a growing number of employers have adopted a broader view of workforce health that includes physical, mental, emotional and financial health. At the same time, findings from a concurrent survey of more than 5,000 U.S. employers, the 2015/16 Willis Towers Watson Global Benefit Attitudes Survey, showed that just 45% of U.S. employees are happy with their current financial situation. Further, 1 in 5 reported that financial problems are negatively affecting their life.

In an article written for BenefitsPro by Steve Nyce, senior economist at Willis Towers Watson, and Carlos Hernandez, vice president of strategic alliances at Acclaris, the authors drew attention to the connection between programs employers offer that support employee physical well-being and those that support financial wellness.

According to Nyce and Hernandez, financial woes disproportionately affect certain segments of the workforce, notably Millennials. Recent graduates with student loans are especially affected. These concerns mean employees are less engaged and less productive.

However, even as employers introduce programs to address these concerns and to enhance employee well-being, the Willis Towers Watson employer survey found that just 50% of employees enroll in them.

What can employers do to help their employees and plan members realize the value available to them through consumer directed health plans (CDHPs) plans and wellness programs?

Nyce and Hernandez identify three key steps to engaging employees in consumer-directed health and wellness offerings. To read the article in BenefitsPro, click here.

A recent article in Kaiser Health News chronicled the rise of telemedicine and the convenience and access it gives to employees who might otherwise miss work for doctor’s appointments or to visit urgent care clinics.

Telemedicine kiosks enable doctors to take blood pressure and perform other basic functions remotely. Employers are increasingly embracing the kiosks as a way to give their employees easier access and to reduce cost. For example, the article cites a telemedicine visit that cost just $15, compared to a comparable appointment at an urgent care center, which would have cost as much as $50. In the past 18 months alone, health insurance provider Anthem has installed 34 kiosks at 20 companies.

However, even as adoption by employers becomes less of an obstacle, the challenge of educating employees remains, according to Dr. Allan Khoury, senior consultant for Willis Towers Watson, who was interviewed for the article. Usage remains low as employees are unsure of how the kiosks work, he said.

To fully reap the benefits of telemedicine in the workplace, the next development in telemedicine needs to be a low tech one — employee education.

To read the article in Kaiser Health News, click here.

The International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) recently announced its top 100 outsourcing providers. Willis Towers Watson has now been named to the list for five years in a row.

A key part of the recognition Willis Towers Watson received this year came from client testimonials, highlighting an expanded suite of services and seamless, scalable benefits technology offerings.

The IAOP recognizes best performers for the important role outsourcing plays in benefits management. IAOP CEO Debi Hamill highlighted the importance of choosing the right outsourcing provider, as the wide array of outsourcing business models continues to challenge companies to adapt. The Top 100 list serves as a resource for companies eager to make the right choice.

Said Toni DeNucci, managing director, North America Benefits Administration Outsourcing for Willis Towers Watson, “We are proud to serve the employees, retirees and family members of the world’s finest companies, providing them with innovative benefit solutions, accurate benefits administration and an exceptional customer experience.”

Click here to read the press release from Willis Towers Watson.

To download a special report on the IAOP’s Top 100 list published in Fortune magazine, click here.

A recent article in Employee Benefit Advisor (EBA) highlighted the fact that to be successful, health insurance brokers must increasingly make themselves known in a particular industry and have a depth of knowledge beyond that of a generalist.

Interviewed for the EBA article, Jim Blaney, health and benefits practice lead for Willis Towers Watson, maintained that in the large and mid-market, brokers might not even get a meeting with a potential client if they aren’t prepared to address more than just the employer’s insurance needs. Among the employer needs Blaney pointed to are ACA compliance, talent management, globalization, and private health insurance exchanges.

In a separate conversation, Blaney suggested that an apt analogy for the changing health insurance brokering industry is the travel industry, which was disrupted by the arrival of third- party booking sites. “New actors in the health insurance space have upset the apple cart of how health insurance used to get sold, and introduced transparency and price competition,” he said.

With regard to private exchanges, Blaney noted that they offer a way for employers to fund benefits and also relieve them of the burden of plan design. “An exchange handles everything from providing plan options and providing thousands of benefit advisors to helping employees and retirees pick the best plans for them, said Blaney. “This reduces administrative burden for the employer and gives employees or retirees better access to plans.”

Brokers with the right expertise can help employers figure out how to design and deploy effective exchanges for their employees, according to Blaney. “The most successful exchanges are those that optimize evaluating and selecting health insurance in much the same way Amazon did for online shopping,” he said. “A broker that can help employers make this transition is going to be in demand.”

Read the complete article in EBA here.

Employers are increasingly concerned with ensuring their employees are healthy and productive in the workplace. According to new survey data from Willis Towers Watson, 64% of U.S. employers said that developing a workplace culture supporting employee well-being is a primary strategy to boost health engagement. In layman’s terms, employers believe that employee happiness with the workplace is one key to a healthy workforce.

These are the findings of 2015/2016 Willis Towers Watson Staying@Work Survey, and mark a significant shift in employer attitudes. One year ago, just one-third (34%) of employers identified employee well-being as a primary strategy.

The shift is part of an emerging focus on a broader definition of wellness that is leading employers to implement new programs. One example is programs to promote financial health, including new voluntary benefits such as student loan assistance.

Focusing on a more holistic view of employee well-being has benefits both for employees and for the company as a whole, according to Shelly Wolff, senior health care consultant at Willis Towers Watson. Of the findings, Wolff said, “As the well-being of employees and their families is enhanced, employers are better positioned to achieve bottom-line goals, improve benefit cost management and lower absenteeism. What’s more, they’ll also have happier, healthier and more engaged employees.”

Jeff Levin-Scherz, senior consultant for Willis Towers Watson, explained in an article for Business Insurance the importance of employers engaging fully in employee wellbeing initiatives. Said Levin-Scherz, “Employers increasingly are understanding that to make a measurable difference in employees’ overall health and productivity, they must drive well-being initiatives deeper into the organization and embed them in employees’ day-to-day work experience.”

For more data employer attitudes towards employee wellness, see the press release on the Willis Towers Watson website.

To read the complete article in Business Insurance, click here.

While private exchanges often are touted for their potential cost-savings, choice is the key value that nearly three-fourths (72%) of U.S. employers highlighted in a recent Willis Towers Watson survey.

The 2016 Willis Towers Watson Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey surveyed 467 employers, representing 12.1 million employees, in January 2016. Moreover, post-enrollment surveys of employees using exchanges show that employees like to choose for themselves and are happy with the choices they’ve made.

According Sherri Bockhorst, managing director of group exchanges for Willis Towers Watson, choice does not mean leaving employees to fend for themselves. Said Bockhurst, “When choice is backed by advanced decision support and recommendations, exchanges help employees navigate complex options and make good decisions based on their needs. As a result, employees better understand their benefits and are able to derive more value from them.”

To read the complete release from Willis Towers Watson, click here.

For an infographic on the survey results, click here.