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  • Steve McEwan

Why offer a WSA?

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

Why would an employer offer a WSA?

Peering through their financial lens, many accountants (and some advisors) may scoff at the concept of a wellness account. Simply viewing it as an alternative to salary misses the value of the benefit as a means of attracting and retaining employees.

Hiring and retaining employees is a bit of a sales game. You need to remind or attract them through compensation, offering value as an employer. Salary and pay, although important, are not the be-all-end-all, and employees want a robust, total compensation package. This includes health, wellness, and retirement.

Providing a wellness plan can be a challenge for small to mid-sized employers with a limited number of employees. A taxable spending account provides the foundation for a wellness strategy – allowing the employer to customize it to align with their business values and wellness outcomes. For instance, if a business includes staff whose job is to sit at a computer all day – creating revenue – but feels it's in the company and employee's best interest to be physically active. Offering an expense list of gym passes, fitness training, recreational sport league fees, running shoes, skies, and more provides that incentive. Employees taking advantage of this offering will likely stay healthier, happier, and more engaged at work. Have other initiatives or expenses in mind to align with company values? It can be customized.

Another great reason for adding a WSA is to cater to multiple generations. Many benefit plans are geared only towards medical, dental, and vision. Yet, with five generations in the workforce, younger employees may not value these offerings because, to be frank, they have healthy lifestyles with no use for these traditional benefits yet. Now they may participate in an underlying insurance plan for pooling of risk but will likely value the offerings they can actually use! This is where WSA's come in – to meet those needs but with cost certainty for the employer. They may pay for traditional insurance premiums but actually use and love their WSA.

Finally, to tie COVID into the conversation, employers are now even more hampered in providing work perks – since many workforces are working remotely. So, perks like buying a new coffee machine or adding a foosball table are out of the question. Providing a flexible, digital solution to tie into wellness initiatives is a convenient offering for the present circumstances. Adding reimbursement programs for an employee's desired home setup or at-home gym can be done through a spending account. HR can get very creative on how the program is utilized.

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