Benefits teams and HR leaders have certainly been challenged throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in ways they might never have trained for or imagined. As fallout from the pandemic continues, these practitioners now face even greater obstacles in terms of hiring and retaining employees, all while mental health concerns continue to rise.
As a result, employers have begun to rethink their benefit strategies to take a more holistic approach to health and well-being, and it’s those employers that will have the advantage of being the workplace of choice. Here are a few examples of the emerging strategies and best practices:
- One size does not fit all: Benefit plans that meet the needs of most employees (not cookie cutter) could win over new workers and retain those already on the team.
- Mental wellness is key: The mental health of a workforce affects every aspect of a business. Benefit strategies that support elimination of stigma, a safe place to talk, and products and programs that address the needs of every type of care needed will reap the long-term rewards.
- Take a top-down approach: Employers that “walk the walk” by fully supporting a culture of health and speaking directly to the workforce allow employees to feel supported and heard. This applies in all workplaces, whether in-person, at-home, or hybrid.
- Redefine success: The old definitions of “engagement” and “workplace culture” should be reviewed, refined, and re-defined if necessary. A fully engaged workforce can no longer be measured by how many chronic patients participate in a disease management program. Success should be defined not only by return on investment or plan savings, but by value on investment and employee satisfaction.
- Educate everyone: Very few HR and benefit leaders were trained in pandemic protocols because there really weren’t any for the industry. “Onsite wellness” has taken on a new meaning. We now realize managers, supervisors, and wellness ambassadors also need training. Safety, stigma awareness, coping skills and resiliency training are trending.
- Productivity is now a key priority: With record staff shortages in many industries, we are now keenly aware of the need to focus efforts to ensure a workforce is present and productive. Tracking data related to short-term disability, Family and Medical Leave Act, and workers’ compensation, along with surveying the workforce, can help employers understand productivity challenges.
The disruption caused by the pandemic and changing workforce presents an opportunity to strengthen company culture, and enable a healthier and more resilient workforce. The employers that adjust to better meet the changing health and well-being needs of their current and potential workforce are the ones that will thrive.
Employees, candidates, and prospects will take note of which companies support employee well-being and which don’t.