Though whether or not we are truly ‘post-pandemic’ may be hotly debated, it is undeniable that COVID-19 has had a long-lasting impact on our society. As we return to our new normal, employers are seeing first-hand the effects of shifting priorities and new demands.
Mental health and overall wellness are chief concerns, and for good reason. In 2020, over a quarter of Americans developed anxiety and/or depression, and almost 70% classified the pandemic as the most stressful time of their professional careers. As employees return to work, they are turning to their employers to provide solutions for a better, healthier and happier workplace.
For those companies unwilling to adapt, turnover is rampant: The Great Resignation saw 47 million people quit their jobs, and the trend isn’t slowing down. It’s never been more important for employers to truly listen to their employees and seek out ways to fill their needs.
Flexibility & Work-Life Balance
From quarantining at home to caring for loved ones, COVID-19 challenged families across the globe. The uncertainty that came out of the pandemic drove employees to seek out more flexibility and a better work-life balance. Now, flexibility is becoming the new normal – and one of the most sought-after benefits. In a 2022 study, 41% of employees said that flexibility to work from home is or was a reason to switch their job.
The pandemic also put into focus the challenges faced by employees who serve as a caregiver for a child or family member. Allowing workers to schedule their workdays the way that works best for them, providing emergency PTO and offering care stipends are just some of the ways businesses are acknowledging the blurring lines between work and life post-pandemic.
Changes to Health Care
The theme of flexibility is also influencing the approach to coverage, particularly in the health care landscape. Since 2019, the number of employees offering virtual health benefits has increased from 73% to 93%. With more accessible options, employees are able to visit their doctor more regularly. As a result, employers’ healthcare costs are actually lowered while employees’ needs are met.
Likewise, better mental health care is paramount: a survey from SHRM found that 35% of employees prioritize mental health benefits over salary. Employees should take note; supporting employee wellness is key to reducing burnout, one of the largest contributors to turnover and the Great Resignation. Unfortunately, over one-third of employers are yet to offer mental health benefits and 43% said their employees struggle to get proper care even if the benefit is offered to them. Companies should prioritize clear communication both with employees and with their benefits brokers to ensure benefits are available and accessible.
Individualization & Personalization
While the benefits landscape saw many changes implemented in the height of the pandemic, there are many more to come. As mindsets shift, so do expectations: 57% of employees desire benefits and perks that their employers are not currently offering. Moreover, they want to feel heard and respected. A study from EY found 49% of employees left a previous job because their employers weren’t sympathetic to their personal lives.
This has fueled the growth of voluntary benefits, which allow employees to select offerings that align with their needs. These may include supplemental health insurance policies, life insurance, pet care, student loan repayment and more. Small gestures, too, help humanize the workplace. Employers may allow a day off to an employee whose pet has passed away, provide access to digital wellness apps or even fund travel and experiences so employees can enjoy their time off.