Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

Study Casts Doubt on Effectiveness of Employee Wellness Programs

A two-year study of nearly five thousand employees seems to indicate there are no significant health benefits to a workplace wellness program. The study did find that more employees held onto a primary care doctor than those not engaged in a wellness program. However, they did not find the employees in the wellness program showed differences in “biometrics, medical diagnoses, or medical use” when compared to the control group.

The wellness program used in the trial offered financial incentives and paid time off in exchange for annual biometric screenings, health risk assessments, and wellness activities.

In 2019, a survey of large employers based around the world expected to spend an average of $3.6 million each on wellness programs, according to HR Executive. It’s a number that keeps going up, as companies prioritize developing an engaged and productive workforce, despite questions about the clinical returns on investment.

New Mental Health Resource Guide for Employers

As mental health awareness ramps up and the tolls of current events become more wearing on workers, the Business Group on Health has released a free, online guide to assist employers who want to launch mental health programs.

Titled “Addressing Mental Health from a Global and Local Perspective,” the guide includes examples of programs from companies around the world, plus tools and examples for employers ready to get started on their own.

The Business Group on Health shares that loneliness and mental health issues are growing during the coronavirus pandemic, and that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. The mental health program guide is meant to help employers and HR managers develop programs throughout their businesses to support employees. Download the guide at their website.

CDC Guidelines for Reopening Offices: Ventilation, Masks, and Distancing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their guidelines on reopening office spaces, and personal space is king. From recommending that employees ride in elevators six feet apart, to wearing masks on the job, to discouraging the use of public transit on the way to and from work, social distancing at the office looks very different from business as usual.

The CDC is emphasizing checking ventilation systems and increasing outdoor air circulation by opening windows and doors. Workstations and furniture should be rearranged to keep employees six feet apart, and communal areas should be spaced or removed. The office coffee pot and water cooler aren’t immune to change, either; the CDC recommends single-serve alternatives to communal refreshment stations.

They also remind employers to check the building for issues which might arise during a prolonged closure, like stagnant water, a new pest infestation, or even mold.

For the full list of guidelines, visit the CDC website.