What We Know from the 2021 Healthiest Employers® Data

JANUARY 19, 2022 – The pandemic ultimately changed the way we work and provided many businesses with opportunities to move their workforce remote or to a hybrid model. Several new questions were added this year to reflect the above trends, plus many others. We have included some of the most common practices from 2021 and helpful tips when planning your company’s 2022 application.

Jan. 19, 2022


Healthiest Employers® is a trusted awards program that recognizes people-first organizations taking a more proactive approach to employee health. Our goal is to be a resource for organizations focused on improving their employees' health by creating a community invested in their populations' health and well-being.

This year was the Healthiest Employers awards program’s 13th nomination cycle. Since 2009, over 10,000 organizations have applied for this prestigious award, representing over 60 million employee lives in the United States. All regional applicants are then entered into the Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America, which takes the highest-scoring organizations from all sizes, industries, and locations.

The Scoring Process

The Healthiest Employers assessment is scored Rubric style on a 1-100 scale. The assessment is made up of six categories with yes/no, multiple-choice, and short answer questions, with each question totaling .25-3 points. A Healthiest Employers Index (HEI) is assigned to each applicant to help rank among companies of similar size.

The categories evaluated are:

  • Culture and Leadership Commitment
  • Foundational Components
  • Strategic Planning
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Programming and Interventions
  • Reporting and Analytics

Each year, our team of experts updates the application to reflect the latest in population health trends. Through diligent research, discussions with professionals, and suggestions from former applicants, the questions are cultivated to challenge applicants to think abstractly and design programming for their populations’ needs. 

For more information on scoring, please visit our methodology page here.

Trends from the 2021 Survey Questions

Several new questions were added this year to reflect the above trends, plus many others. Below are some of the most common practices from 2021 and helpful tips when planning your company’s 2022 application.

Providing Flexibility “Post-Covid”

The pandemic ultimately changed the way we work and provided many businesses with opportunities to move their workforce remote or to a hybrid model

Many companies have also had to provide flexible and unique offerings to combat short staffing issues. For those in office, their offerings may look very different from those with the ability to work remotely. 

For example, companies with an office space, 48% of applicants reported providing onsite massages, therapy, or chiropractic visits, making care easy and accessible to those who have in-person roles. Additionally, 76% provide bicycle storage for those choosing to bike to work and 62.16% have an onsite fitness center or gymnasium to provide a place for employees to exercise or alleviate stress throughout the workday. 

87% of all companies (both in person and remote) reported that they provide telecommuting opportunities in the event of illness and 63% offered additional time off to attend to personal matters at home. These flexible options ensure that employees are able to take care of issues at home, while not worrying about neglecting work responsibilities.

The 2022 application will reflect the changing workforce and applicants will be asked to answer questions based on if their employees are in office, hybrid, or remote in order to gather the most appropriate data.

Chronic Condition Management

The CDC reported that approximately 51.8% of adults in the United States had at least one chronic condition in 2018

An important role that several companies take on is providing education and disease management resources to those diagnosed with these conditions. 

28% of applicants this past year reported that they do not know if the prevalence of chronic conditions has increased or decreased, and 14% have never reviewed their chronic condition populations.

Some of the most prevalent chronic conditions include arthritis, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. While several organizations reported providing resources on these conditions, not all have the ability to identify and track these conditions within their population. The graph below shows the percentages of companies who answered yes to the following questions:

  • For which of the following chronic conditions does your organization provide educational and support resources? 
  • Does your organization know the percentage of employees diagnosed with the following conditions? 
  • Do you have systems in place to measure clinical improvements for the following conditions?

To track how effective disease management and intervention programs are, education is certainly the first step. However, the “healthiest” companies are taking this a step further to identify the prevalence among their employees, track gaps in care, and measure the clinical improvements among these populations. Ultimately, these capabilities will help an organization truly prove the value of their programming initiatives.  

The 2022 application will ask questions similar to those listed above and include questions related to abilities to close gaps in care and engage employees.

Breaking the Mental Health Stigma

Several organizations heavily prioritized mental health resources for the 2021 program year. As the threat of COVID-19 continues after nearly two years, mental well-being and programming are something that most Americans can greatly benefit from. 94% of our 2021 applicants reported providing mental health programming for their employees.  

While this is an incredible number, the highest-scoring organizations are also providing internal processes to prove the importance of these programming dollars. Only 52% have an evaluation process in place for their mental health initiatives, but to best accommodate the employee population, it is crucial to identify the issues present, consider expanding on those most utilized, and cut back where least helpful. A formal process helps keep these companies accountable for the programs put in place and ensures that employees are truly being looked after in a time of crisis. 

A recent survey by the American Psychological Association shows that 61% of Americans reported feeling stressed about money and 43% reported feeling stressed about job stability. To help ease this stress and tension, we see that 94% of our Healthiest Employers applicants report providing financial wellness support and resources for their employees

On top of this, several companies are offering targeted intervention programs for the following mental health disorders:

  • 52% provide bipolar disorder resources
  • 68% offer substance and opioid abuse counseling
  • 77% provide depression management resources
  • 79% offer stress management and anxiety resources

The ability to provide support helps reduce the stigma of mental health and provide direction for those battling these conditions so that they can be the best versions of themselves. Their happiness directly impacts their ability to perform at work, which is another important reason companies begin finding more ways to incorporate these resources into their culture. 

The 2022 application will provide additional questions around mental well-being support and how employers are caring for their populations year-round.

Work/Life and Family Balance

A survey by Statista in January of 2021 indicated that 72% of employees consider work-life balance when looking for a new job. This is huge, as it means the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle while working is just as important as title, salary, and benefits packages. 

Looking back through the 2021 responses, we noted several organizations highlighting that work-life balance is a priority for their company. Most of the time, an employee’s availability at home also directly impacts their families, which is why it is important to provide options for spouses and dependents. 91% of applicants reported offering telemedicine opportunities to family members, and 82% offer disease management and coaching support

Aside from these programs, maternity and paternity leave continues to be a heavily debated issue in America, as 70% of companies provide paid maternity leave and 59% offer paternity leave. 

While this looks like a step in the right direction, when taking a closer look at the amount of paid maternity/paternity leave these organizations offer, we see that:

  • Only 16% of companies are offering women more than 14 weeks of paid maternity leave
  • 22% of the 59% that offer paternity leave offer less than 10 days of paid leave (only 7% offer more than 14 weeks)
  • Approximately half of all respondents offer some sort of paid leave for adoptive parents
  • Only 36% of companies have invested in a return to work program for parents returning from leave

Companies who are investing heavily and providing these additional work-life balance benefits are attracting and maintaining the highest level of talent among their populations. 

The 2022 application will have several questions relating to how companies allow employees to live their healthiest lives at home, questions regarding tenure, and career satisfaction.

Preparing for the Future

Part of our survey asks participants to tell us what their most important incentives are in the coming year. In the 2021 survey, we asked, “Which of the following digital health solutions are you considering purchasing?” 

Below are the most common responses: 

  • Mental health coaching: 38.62%
  • Stress and resilience: 34.58%
  • Financial wellness: 33.38%
  • Emotional well-being: 33.38%
  • Employee assistance programming: 29.64%
  • Analytics software: 18.56%

This speaks to the validity of the trends and the importance of the changes to the 2022 application. As more companies are developing, health programming and initiatives change too. 

These responses help the Healthiest Employers team curate and create content that is relevant to our population and what to expect in the upcoming months. 

To stay in the know on all things Healthiest Employers, follow us on LinkedIn and consider checking out our personalized benchmark report options to compare your wellness program to that of the national dataset. 

If you are interested in learning more about the 2021 trends and what to expect in the upcoming year, register for our upcoming webinar featuring Northwell Health!

About Haley Elmore, MBA

Haley Elmore, MBA, is a strategic marketer, leading the Healthiest Employers Awards Program. She brings a diverse sales and marketing background, with expertise in customer service, data analysis, and event planning. Haley joined the Springbuk team in February of 2019 as a Business Development Representative. She continuously surpassed her quarterly goals and was promoted to her current role as the Healthiest Employers Coordinator, where she supports the program's growth and continued success. Haley completed her undergrad Purdue University and recently earned her Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Health Economics, Policy, and Administration from Ball State University.