The pandemic has spawned an existential crisis of sorts in that employees are reevaluating their work life. More and more, people are reassessing the kind of work they want to do, and as a result, scores of them are quitting what they’re doing now. It’s a real problem for employers at a time when recruitment and retention are paramount.
While raising pay levels is one way to lure and keep employees, employers who demonstrate care through the benefits they offer are the ones that can create a more resilient and loyal workforce. In that vein, let’s look at employee benefit programs and what’s been dubbed The Great Resignation.
Organizations nationwide are aiming to fill some 11 million job openings – a near record high. Last November, about 3.4 percent of employees left their jobs. That’s compared to 2.7 percent during November of 2020, the year the pandemic began. But raising wages alone will not stanch the fallout.
The Importance of Benefits and Wellbeing
Research by Paychex and Future Workplace on 603 full-time employees during last November found that wellbeing benefits were a high priority for job applicants. Such benefits included mental, emotional, financial, physical, social, and career wellbeing.
In the study, 24 percent of respondents reported that mental and emotional wellbeing was their key area of concern.
Increased Stress Levels
There’s no question that employees are struggling with heightened stress levels caused by the persistent pandemic. In fact, a COVID Resilience Survey of 3,035 adults found that 63 percent of adults said that uncertainty about the near future will likely cause them stress, and nearly half said the pandemic has made planning feel impossible.
What’s more, the Kaiser Family Foundation said that almost 40 percent of companies have modified their health plans since 2020 to enhance access to mental health services and increase the ways in which such services can be rendered.
What Employers Can Do to Help
There was a time, not too long ago, when a fat paycheck and nice perks were enough to attract and keep the talent your organization needs. The pandemic has largely upended all that. Here are ways organizations can improve recruitment and retention through employee engagement:
- Show that you care. This demonstration should become ingrained in your organizational culture and must be properly communicated. In fact, employees have now come to expect, as part of their benefits package, support for their physical and mental wellbeing as well as their financial wellbeing.
- De-stigmatize mental health issues. A survey by the American Psychological Association found that one in five employees reported their mental health status as being worse than it was a year ago. Organizations can help counter this by ingraining mental health awareness into the culture and by making sure that employees know where to turn for help. Properly communicating employee assistance program benefits will go a long way toward easing pandemic-related mental stress.
- Find out which benefits matter. Employers should do all they can to establish a personalized approach to benefits. This should begin with regular surveys to determine what benefits matter most to employees, with the goal of putting together a wellbeing benefits package that ultimately meets the needs of all employees.
As you can see, there’s a direct correlation between employee benefit programs and The Great Resignation that has occurred during the pandemic. The consultant Mercer can help you put in place a benefits strategy that will help you with recruitment and retention, while improving the quality and cost of care.