With Benefit Season Looming, What Benefits do Employees Want Today?
June 4, 2021
By Anthony Kaylin, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE
The post-pandemic world will be a tough one to navigate for HR. With job openings high, experienced talent spotty, and extreme competition for talent, HR must rethink how to create a sustainable employment brand. It doesn’t help that post-pandemic job mobility is expected to accelerate. According to a report by Achievers Workforce Institute, an engagement and performance platform, over half of surveyed employees are planning on getting a new job this year, up from 35% last year.
So why do workers stay? A recent study shows that one in six U.S. workers said they are working a job they would otherwise leave because they don’t want to lose their health benefits, according to the May 6 results of a Gallup survey. The survey included 3,870 adults who completed the questionnaire in March. Black workers (21%) were more likely than White workers (14%) to report that health benefits were keeping them in unwanted jobs. The study also found that Hispanic workers (16%) are not statistically different from either of the two groups.
Further, workers in households earning under $48,000 per year are nearly three times more likely to stay in an unwanted job for the health benefits than are workers living in households earning at least $120,000 per year (28% to 10%, respectively).
And there are other benefits, that if promoted today, would keep workers. Number one, of course, is work flexibility. Yet, according to a Baumgartner survey, 51% of employees currently working from home worry their manager doubts their productivity. To compensate, 70% of employees say they work on the weekends, and 45% are working more hours per week than pre-pandemic, according to data from consulting firm Robert Half.
This means there is opportunity for building an employment brand if HR listens to the new entries in the workforce. According to an IBM study, employees — especially millennials and Gen-Z — are becoming more vocal about the things they expect from their employers. No longer is it enough to simply provide a salary and health benefits. Employees want support in their everyday lives, and they are willing to change jobs, even in a rough economy, to get it.
Moreover, if managers are not retrained for managing and growing in this new environment, and if remote work options are not allowed or frowned upon in terms of career development, that may cause valuable employees to leave and limit new pools of applicants. Remember, everyone talks, and Glassdoor reviews can be deadly to employment brand.
Therefore, employers need to consider investments in childcare, elder care, financial planning, and wellness, in particular mental health, for the new workforce. Although there is a dependent care FSA, access to quality and affordable childcare is important. As these workers age, they will likely be joining the sandwich generation, and need help with parent care. Moreover, with the new laws, employers can help employees pay down school debt tax free – another way to attract talent in today’s environment.
Willis Towers Watson’s Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey supports this point. 94% of employers identify voluntary benefits as a key piece of their employee value proposition and Total Rewards strategy–compared to just 36% in 2018. “Our research shows that employees are craving more voluntary and flexible benefits,” said Lydia Jilek, senior director, Voluntary Benefits Solutions, Willis Towers Watson. “Employers are supplementing existing core benefits with more personalized benefits to provide additional ways to support their employees’ overall well-being and enhance the perceived value of their benefit offerings.”
HR professionals of today, even with so much on their plate and less resources to do the work, need to spend time focusing on benefit options that can attract and retain core employees. Benefit season and the “end” of the pandemic is just around the corner.