Employers are at a critical reflection point where we can look back at the last two years and evaluate what has worked and what hasn’t.
Jennifer Santisi, M.S.
Director of Communications, Integrated Benefits Institute
The Integrated Benefits Institute’s recent analysis estimates that the cost associated with the loss of work hours due to COVID-19 is $213.1 billion, and the number of lost hours attributed to the pandemic totaled 6.6 billion. Employers have also faced challenges with attraction and retention, along with quiet quitting and burnout. Where do we go from here to recover from these losses?
A company culture that fosters flexibility and transparency is key to employees feeling comfortable, valued, and supported. According to the Pew Research Center, 45% of people surveyed say they left their job because of a lack of flexibility. Trust, safety, and inclusion also have heightened importance.
Employees’ sense of security can be strengthened by comprehensive programs that include financial education, and well-being and leave of absence benefit offerings to meet employee needs.
The right balance
Remote and hybrid employees report being more satisfied and more productive, according to recent IBI research. However, they also feel disconnected from their co-workers and company’s culture, and report higher incidences of anxiety and depression. Remote work may not be the ideal solution for every employee and it shouldn’t be implemented as a one-size-fits-all approach.
What works for one company may not work for another. It’s critical to understand the needs of the majority of employees, balance that with the company’s culture, and accept that it may require more than one solution.
We hear from the most successful employers that communication is crucial, leveraging strategies like one-on-one interviews with employees, townhalls, and surveys. It’s important for employers to gather as much data and information as possible to make informed decisions on how best to support their employees’ health, well-being, and productivity, while balancing what’s in the best interest of the company — not always an easy task.
What matters most
In IBI’s recent survey, employers stated that cost mitigation, and attraction and retention are the most influential factors in benefit design decision-making. Mental well-being continues to be top of mind and has a significant influence on productivity.
Ensure your employees can afford care, and evaluate plan design decisions and how they affect outcomes. Access and affordability are the biggest barriers to receiving care, and employees shouldn’t have to decide between a grocery bill or healthcare. A healthy employee is a productive employee — don’t be afraid to overhaul benefit programs if it means improved outcomes.
Looking ahead, employers should consider the following in benefit plan design strategy:
- Understand your workforce demographics
- Consider employee feedback; engage with and listen to your employees
- Educate employees on the benefits offered and how to use them
- Proceed with caution on cost mitigation and use empathy when considering changes to your benefit plans
- Improve workplace culture and reduce stigma with peer-support networks and education
- Facilitate peer-support as an important part of mental well-being