Over the past 18 years, our annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends study has examined changing workplace dynamics and how employers can best respond to them.
Seemingly overnight, the way we live and work drastically changed. Since beginning our research for the 2020 study in 2019, which focused on the opportunities and challenges of the blended work-life world and the importance of holistic well-being, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and reshaped the world as we know it. Additional research was conducted in early April 2020 to understand how employees are feeling during the crisis.
The pandemic has dramatically impacted the importance of employee well-being.
Workers now wear more hats than ever before, as schools are closed, non-essential workers are asked to stay home and employees in essential roles risk their well-being to keep communities healthy, fed and safe. Employees across the U.S. are acting as educators, caretakers, dog walkers and more, while doing their best to stay engaged with their employers and perform their jobs from home. In these extraordinary times, employers must realize their unique position to impact their employees’ lives, and how benefits are central to keeping employees productive and healthy in these trying times.
We know that employers’ priorities have shifted, and changes are likely still to come. For some organizations, a focus on attraction and retention has been replaced by a fight for sustainability and survival. At the same time, employees who are still able to work in this context may have new priorities, concerns and motivations.
Despite these shifts, one thing remains constant: employers who understand their employees’ experience and needs — and take action to help their employees manage the challenges they face inside and outside of work — will have a more engaged, productive and successful workforce.
This year, we explore a holistic model of well-being comprised of physical, financial, mental, and social components. Adopting this model and offering a mix of benefits that support it can help employees manage the issues and concerns they face, and ultimately feel more protected, secure and cared for, especially when it comes to financial wellness, which is a top concern for employees right now. Employers have a unique opportunity to not only assist employees now, but to also proactively build an even stronger workplace culture for the future. (Summary page of the study here).
From access to telehealth and mental health support to flexible work hours and setting boundaries between work and personal life, employees are seeking access to more and new ways to keep them holistically well than they may have before COVID-19. Offering these and other supportive benefits and programs to employees is one important aspect, however communicating to employees about their benefits is also crucial for success. Providing employees with the proper guidance on how to use the programs available to them can make a big difference – especially during times of need.
The value of these actions is far-reaching. Employees say because of benefits they receive at the workplace, they worry less about unexpected health and financial issues. Also, employees who say their current benefits package helps to reduce their stress are more productive than those who do not.
As an advocate for the workforce, now more than ever our goal is to help people and organizations navigate uncertainty together and emerge on the other side of this crisis stronger and positioned for success in the future.
We hope this study can be a helpful resource for employers in this challenging time.