Johnny C. Taylor, Jr
President and CEO, The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president and CEO of The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest human resources association, says employers are committed to offering greater flexibility for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When considering telework, childcare, or paid time off, freedom and flexibility are the strongest forces shaping benefits today,” he says.
According to SHRM’s research, 68 percent of organizations say they plan to adopt more flexible work-from-home policies for all workers. Over 1 in 4 organizations will probably allow employees to permanently work remotely, and nearly 6 in 10 organizations say they will handle childcare accommodation requests on a case-by-case basis.
Organizations need to prioritize their workers by offering people-centric benefits.
“Reflect and look for ways to innovate and tailor benefits to the particular needs of your unique workforce,” says Taylor.
For example, employers are focusing on workforce development. SHRM research shows that 68 percent of organizations have maintained their budgets for reskilling and upskilling during COVID-19, while six percent of organizations have increased their budgets. The top areas of development include training employees on new technology and equipment.
Organizations are also paying attention to employees’ mental and physical health. SHRM research indicates that over 22 percent of employees report experiencing symptoms of depression, including feeling tired, having trouble concentrating, and having little interest or pleasure in doing things.
“Expanded benefits may include telemedicine for mental health services, wellness programs to manage stress, and expanded employee assistance programs,” says Taylor, noting organizations may consider surveying employees to see what new or enhanced benefits they are interested in.
Despite these shifts, it may be challenging for employers to add or change offerings if they are not yet approaching benefit renewal dates. It can also be difficult to find the right vendor at an affordable price.
The new normal
Navigating this new workplace normal can be challenging and stressful for all employees. Taylor urges everyone to be there for each other.
“The challenges and risks may differ depending on the details of our lives and circumstances, but you can bet everyone you know is currently fighting a battle of their own,” he says. “That’s why it pays to take the time to check in and make people feel seen and appreciated.”