Well-Being 3.0 - Aligning Well-Being with People and Boardroom Priorities

Employee Benefits

Well-Being 3.0 - Aligning Well-Being with People and Boardroom Priorities

In recent years, we have witnessed some notable transitions in employee health programs – beginning with an emphasis on physical health (Wellness 1.0), then shifting to a focus on holistic frameworks across physical, emotional, financial and social health (Well-Being 2.0). However, this holistic view still lacks a connection to business initiatives like Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) and sustainability. Many organizations with Wellness 1.0 and Well-Being 2.0 approaches still struggle to demonstrate the value of their programs.

At the same time, many C-suite leaders view employee well-being as an indicator of organizational resiliency―intrinsically linked to other business and sustainability metrics like talent attraction and retention, employee engagement, productivity and profitability. As a result, leading organizations are shifting their approach―from tactical programs to broader strategies aligned with total rewards and organizational sustainability. This transformative shift has brought us Well-Being 3.0 and a new opportunity to implement strategies that make both people sense and business sense.

Today’s Well-Being Program Realities

  • Well-being investment is growing. The average employer’s budget for well-being programs increased 36% from 2019 to 2020, with large employers (20,000+ employees) reporting an average spend of $10.4 million.1 This number increased to $11 million in 2022, presumably driven by a heightened focus on well-being during the pandemic. For mid-market employers (fewer than 5,000 employees), the average amount spent per employee increased 60% in 2022.2
  • C-suite attention is intensifying. The increased spending on employee well-being programs coincides with the opinions of a growing number of C-suite executives, who say employee well-being is a strategic boardroom and organizational priority.  A recent study of 3,000 CEOs conducted by IBM indicates that 77% of high-performing company CEOs will prioritize employee well-being even if it affects near-term profitability.3
  • Employees are not feeling the impact. According to a recent Gallup survey, employees consistently ranked “the organization cares about employees’ well-being” in their top three areas of what they most look for in an employer. Millennial and Gen Z workers rank this as their number one workplace want, with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and ethical corporate behavior also high on their lists.4 Yet, despite increased investment and executive-level attention, “fewer than one in four employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their well-being – the lowest percentage in nearly a decade.”5

This chasm between organizational emphasis and employee perception creates an imperative for employers to consider developing a transformative Well-Being 3.0 design.

Employer Well-Being Opportunities

Here are three ways organizations can adopt a Well-Being 3.0 approach that better aligns with people’s needs and boardroom priorities:

  1. Connect the dots. Employers should articulate how their Environmental and Social Governance (ESG), Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives support employee well-being.
  2. Focus on human-centered design and personalized experiences. The design and delivery of well-being programs should be informed by employee insights (preferences, risks, needs) and the organization’s DEI objectives.
  3. Measure, target and report. Employee well-being metrics are also indicators of organizational resiliency and sustainability. Organizations should track and report well-being metrics with the intent to demonstrate how employee well-being and business performance are interrelated and interdependent.

Well-Being 3.0 presents employers with new realities and opportunities, and paves the way to help optimize both business and employee well-being objectives.


  1. 2021, 11th annual Health and Well-Being Survey from Fidelity Investments® and Business Group on Health. Retrieved from: https://www.businessgrouphealth.org/en/who-we-are/newsroom/press-releases/95-percent-of-employers-now-include-emotional-and-mental-health-programs-in-well-being-platforms
  2. 2022, 13th Annual Employer-Sponsored Health & Well-Being Survey from Fidelity Investments® and Business Group on Health. Retrieved from: https://www.businessgrouphealth.org/who-we-are/newsroom/press-releases/2022-fidelity-survey
  3. 2021, IBM Study: Employee Well-being is Major Priority for Many CEOs of High Performing Companies. Retrieved from: https://newsroom.ibm.com/2021-02-02-IBM-Study-Employee-Well-being-is-Major-Priority-for-Many-CEOs-of-High-Performing-Companies
  4. 2021, Gallup – Employees Want Wellbeing From Their Job, and They’ll Leave to Find It. Retrieved from: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/352952/employees-wellbeing-job-leave-find.aspx
  5. 2022, Gallup – Percent Who Feel Employer Cares About Their Wellbeing Plummets. Retrieved from: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/390776/percent-feel-employer-cares-wellbeing-plummets.aspx
Abinue Fortingo, MPH, CPH

Principal, Population Health Consultant

Kelly Polinski, M.P.H., C.W.P.M.

National Population Health Consultant