Workplace Wellness Benefit Programs on the Decline

While the range of workplace benefits offered by employers to encourage health and wellness among office workers has skyrocketed since the turn of the 21st century, new data indicates that such programs are dropping off dramatically within the past few years, as employers fail to see their long-term financial justification.

The latest annual survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), now in its 20th year, compiled data from some 3,490 companies in regards to the kinds of perks and benefits offered to employees.

While the number of core employee benefits, such as health care coverage and retirement savings plans, has remained fairly constant since SHRM first began gathering data in 1996, other benefits — subsidized childcare, health coaching, on-site flu vaccinations, and on-call nursing assistance — are all on the decline.

Granted, the overall presence of wellness programs has witnessed a significant boom: 78% of surveyed businesses currently offer wellness benefits, such as healthcare premiums for weight loss or quitting tobacco, compared to just 54% two decades ago.

This “could be an indication that organizations are being more strategic in selecting effective wellness programs for their employees,” the study’s authors wrote. Still on the rise are benefits like gym memberships, standing desks, and nap rooms.

Wellness benefits aren’t necessarily just about employee health and productivity, though. Separate research indicates that 66% of workers who are offered benefits would recommend their employers to other people as a great place to work.

The cost-benefit trade-offs of such programs, however, seem to vary widely in their effectiveness and results. One analysis of a Fortune 100 company’s lifestyle-management wellness program was found to cost the company an additional 50 cents for every dollar spent.

After experimenting with various benefits for a few years, says Evren Esen, director of survey programs at SHRM, employers “may be taking a step back” to analyze the return on investment of such programs. Only 37% of employers now offer health coaching, compared to nearly 50% last year. Similarly, there was a 7% decline in on-site flu vaccinations.

Overall, however, the large majority of companies with wellness programs — 77% — considered them to be “somewhat or very effective in reducing health care costs,” and perks like telecommunication options, 401(k)s, educational assistance, and paid parental leave are all on the rise.

Websites Developed By Artificial Intelligence Could Mean the End of Days for Skilled Designers

Website building service Wix.com has recently launched an innovative “artificial design intelligence” (ADI) service to change the way novice website creators build their sites.

Wix was founded in Tel Aviv in 2006 and has since served as a foolproof development platform aimed at helping entrepreneurs and bloggers build websites using drag-and-drop tools, making coding knowledge obsolete.

With the introduction of Wix ADI, the company is striving to make website development even easier and faster, using algorithms to automate the web design process. These algorithms are created through a compilation of existing user data, ultimately designed to put together a universally popular website design.

Furthermore, Wix guarantees that no two ADI sites are the same. They promise unique pages, layouts, colors, themes, etc. The client simply answers a few questions, providing the platform with a basic outline of what the company is and in what generalized category they fit. From this information, Wix ADI compiles relevant images, text, and layouts.

Once the site has been fully automated, users can go in and customize aspects of each page. They can tweak layouts, switch themes, edit text, and insert additional images.

“Wix ADI is the world’s first technology platform that combines website design and content creation with artificial intelligence to enable complete websites to be created in a matter of minutes,” said Avishai Abrahami, the cofounder and CEO at Wix. “Building a professional and complete website is the first step in getting online, and while Wix today makes it easy, challenges still exist. With Wix ADI, we solve these challenges, getting businesses online with a fully functioning, stunning looking website easier and faster than ever.”

Professional designers have expressed mixed reactions following the introduction of “robot”-generated websites. Many are arguing that artificial intelligence has nothing to do with the platform’s new features at all. “AI, as developed by Wix…is no more artificial intelligence than robots on an automated assembly line constitute skilled craftsmen,” claimed Ben Moss, editor of WebdesignerDepot. “Wix ADI is an elaborate template browser.”

When it comes down to it, however, many of today’s companies are just looking for a simple design that earns them enough of a web presence to get their name out there. Wix ADI does just that, creating an attractive site that compels visitors to want to learn more about a business. In a world in which 46% of Internet users consider a website’s design to be a leading factor in determining that business’s credibility, that’s all a company can really ask for.