To attract talented candidates and retain existing employees, employers need to offer comensation packages that not only include competitive wages, but also the flexibility that emplopyees increasingly value.
Employee benefit and healthcare technology trends have shifted toward a desire for greater balance and support, in addition to compensation and health insurance. But how did we get here, and what do you need to know to create a desirable workplace?
The Great Resignation — Or The Great Upgrade?
The pandemic has led people to reevaluate their jobs, whether due to safety concerns, increased childcare demands, or an overall rise in stress and anxiety. Although many are quitting their jobs, a large number of those individuals are not leaving the workforce entirely. Instead, they are seeking jobs with better pay, more comprehensive benefits, and more flexible work schedules, or what Bharat Ramamurti, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, calls “The Great Upgrade.”
CNN, citing data from economists at Goldman Sachs, reports that of the 2.5 million people missing from the workforce as a result of the Great Resignation, 1.7 million have not retired, and many of these individuals are still in the prime of their careers. However, with a smaller labor pool and millions of open positions (11.5 million in March 2022), these individuals can be more selective in looking for work arrangements that best suit their needs.
It’s also notable that not just service workers are leaving due to inconvenient hours and poor compensation. CNBC reports that many mid-career professionals are leaving as well, particularly women. These positions are harder to fill and leave holes in knowledge and experience within companies. That's why it's important to understand what workers are looking for from their employers in a tight job market.
3 Employee Benefit Trends To Consider
The shift to greater balance and support also includes employee benefits. Here are three employee benefit trends that have opened new pathways for more accessible, higher quality care.
1. Virtual Care Options
In recent years, many employers have expanded coverage of virtual care for mental health, primary care, and even specialist visits. Patients and doctors have expressed a desire to keep virtual care options for convenience, cost savings, and many other reasons. Ensuring that your health coverage includes virtual care options enables your employees to focus on their wellness in a way that fits their schedules and personal needs. Digital solutions, like Empire’s Sydney℠ Health app, offer a personal, guided experience that helps your employees navigate their healthcare options and make the most of their benefits through a single, easy-to-use resource. Your employees can make connections with providers, resolve health issues, and bridge care gaps, with real-time access to personalized information based on their health history. Apps like Sydney Health provide options for virtual care and can help remove barriers to care, leading to better decisions and reduced costs.
2. Behavioral Health Coverage
The Affordable Care Act’s Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) increased requirements for health plans to provide mental health benefits comparable to medical benefits. This legislation, along with pandemic-related increases in burnout, stress, depression, anxiety, and substance use, continues to highlight the need for expanded offerings to support employees with mental health concerns. Many people have also experienced major life changes for the first time, such as the deaths of friends and family members, chronic disease diagnoses, and financial hardships.
These stressors show few signs of letting up. The American Psychological Association reports that employees felt increasing rates of burnout in 2020 and 2021 due to work-related stress and additional demands at home, leading to exhaustion, lack of motivation, and even cynicism. A workplace culture that prioritizes mental health and well-being — with holistic resources and enhanced digital access to virtual care visits — will continue to matter to employees. And by offering counseling through an employee assistance program (EAP), with the cost of sessions covered by health insurance, as well as adopting innovative self-guided resources such as digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), you can help reduce stress and prevent burnout in the future.
3. Flexibility And Work-life Balance
An October 2021 survey by Catalyst and CNBC found that 76% of respondents permanently want flexibility in terms of location or schedule. Many employees also responded they felt their companies don't show empathy or understanding of employees' work-life needs, particularly for women and people of color. Furthermore, flexibility appears to be not just a desire for employees, but also their expectation: a January 2022 Future Forum Pulse survey found that 78% of respondents want location flexibility, and 95% want schedule flexibility. Some employees even view remote/hybrid work opportunities as equivalent to a 10% pay raise.
You can help your employees achieve more balance by adding work-life consultation services to an EAP, such as childcare, elder care, daily living, legal, or financial resources. Virtual and in-person access to maternity programs that support healthy pregnancies also benefits both employers and families. Finally, offering flexible time off allows your employees to address health needs, take mental health days, or focus on caregiving and other responsibilities when necessary.
Creating A More Desirable Workplace
Establishing a healthy, supportive work environment is more important than ever. By reimagining employee benefits to include flexible, digitally-enabled access to care, support for mental health and well-being, and programs to support work-life balance, you will show genuine concern for the real-world concerns of your employees — and be better positioned to attract and retain talent.
Employees want to feel their well-being matters to their employer. Your offerings, beyond salary, can demonstrate real empathy and build trust and satisfaction for your employees.