This year has forced companies and employees alike to seriously rethink and revamp how they approach everything in their lives. From how they do their day-to-day work, how they communicate and connect with team members remotely, how they care for their children and loved ones, and something else that bridges across it all - how they manage their personal health and wellness.
Pre-pandemic, employee health and wellness programs were all about corporate gym memberships, and if you were lucky, there'd also be some in-office events, team challenges, and maybe a mental health app. While those sound good in theory, most of these wellness benefits went unused...and then most of them no longer made sense at all once employees went remote.
Offering a wellness stipend has emerged as the perfect wellness solution for the future of work.
Because a wellness stipend allows employees to choose what's important to their individual health journey, it's become the most practical and impactful way for employers to support the health of their employees while remote. It's also flexible enough to support going back to the office or going hybrid if that's what's in the cards for your company!
What you need to know about wellness stipends
A wellness stipend, alternatively known as a wellness spending account or wellness allowance, is available for employees to use to pay for mental or physical health needs. Employers should understand this is a taxable benefit. They can either cover the tax themselves or list the stipend on each employee’s W2 form as taxable income.
There are different ways to offer a wellness stipend for your employees depends: as a one-time stipend, or ongoing health stipend to pay out monthly, quarterly, or annually. Many successful companies opt to provide an all-inclusive recurring stipend for employees that covers wellness purchases, as well as food, internet costs, education and more.
However you decide to approach a wellness stipend for your team, a stipend software like Compt can cut down your administrative effort and automate your tax compliance.
Examples of how to use a wellness stipend
One of the greatest perks of offering employee wellness stipends is the flexibility. With a wellness stipend, you get to offer your employees a seemingly endless list of possibilities to support their health - whether it's physical, emotional, psychological or otherwise.
Below are 20 examples of goods or services employees can obtain with the stipend, depending on the amount available to them.
Stress is at an all-time high with the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Having access to a trained therapist without having to worry about the cost can help employees through this challenging time.
Ergonomically office furniture
Whether employees work at home or the office, they need office furniture they can use all day without discomfort. Reimbursement for a standing desk or a chair that sits at eye level to the computer can help prevent repetitive use injuries.
Gym membership or equipment
Paying the full or partial cost of gym memberships was a popular employee benefit before the pandemic. However, more people workout at home now with many gyms still not fully open or people just not feeling comfortable working out in public. A wellness stipend helps employees workout in either environment.
Companies with high deductible plans or that encourage employees to shop their state marketplace can help to make health insurance more affordable by offering a wellness stipend.
Weight loss plan membership
From Weight Watchers to Jenny Craig, several commercial weight loss programs have high success rates helping members take off extra pounds. People who have group support and access to health resources typically lose more weight and keep it off longer than those who go it alone.
Massage or spa services
Getting a professional massage and not having to pay for it may be just what some employees need to keep stress at bay. They should also appreciate the range of services the typical spa offers.
People lacking in certain vitamins and minerals can benefit from taking supplements, but cost often holds them back. Using a wellness stipend to purchase supplements for several months can help boost an employee’s health and productivity.
Smoking cessation program
Employees who smoke can be less productive than non-smokers because they tend to take more breaks to smoke. Smoking also causes significant health issues such as cancer and heart disease, yet quitting is extremely challenging. Providing employees who smoke with support and resources as they quit benefits everyone.
Signs of illness often show up on the skin first. With a healthcare stipend, employees can choose to purchase professional-grade skincare products to help keep their skin healthy.
Many people want to eat better but don’t understand basic nutrition. Attending an online class or one-on-one instruction in person can help.
Not everyone enjoys or can complete traditional types of exercise. A wellness stipend allows them to pursue something they might enjoy better such as yoga.
Millions of Americans have pre-diabetes and don’t know it. That means anyone can benefit from learning their risk factors for diabetes and how to prevent them.
People achieve better health results with accountability and someone cheering them on. However, hiring a fitness coach or personal trainer can be expensive. Employees who want to go this route can easily do so with their wellness benefit.
People need regular time away from work and other responsibilities to prevent burnout. A wellness stipend that allows employees to use it on some vacation expenses is ideal. Employees can relax knowing that taking a break won’t cause a financial crisis.
Health monitoring devices
Fitbit is the best-known example of wearable technology that allows people to keep tabs on their activity level, heart rate, and more. Seeing the statistics daily can help people feel motivated to become even more active.
Charities frequently host races with entrance fees to help raise funds. A wellness stipend that pays the entrance fee is a win-win for the employee’s health and the charity raising money to help others.
Meditation helps people feel calm and centered, something desperately needed with the stress of the world today.
Meal delivery service
Several companies cater to people with special dietary needs by offering to deliver pre-made meals right to their door. Using such a service can help employees with diabetes, heart conditions, gluten sensitivity, and other conditions consume healthier food.
Prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses are expensive and often not fully covered by health or vision insurance. The same is true of Lasix vision correction surgery. Employees can ensure they have the clearest vision possible by using their wellness stipend to pay for the glasses, contacts, or surgery.
People sometimes receive greater benefit by visiting a chiropractor or other non-traditional healthcare provider that their regular doctor or a specialist. A wellness stipend can help because insurance either does not cover many of these services or provides coverage at a much lower rate than traditional medical care.
For even more ideas on what to spend a wellness stipend on, check out our Employee Perk Study that shows the top health & wellness vendors we saw among thousands of employee wellness stipend purchases on Compt.
Compt is the #1 employee stipends platform that gives your people the freedom to choose the lifestyle perks that are best for them and their always evolving needs, even when remote. Interested in learning how Compt might benefit your company? Consult with our team or request a demo.