Employee benefits have always been a strong selling point in recruiting and retention efforts. But the impact of COVID-19 has revolutionized the way employee benefits influence businesses today. In fact, a majority of human resource leaders and executive-level professionals plan to offer new or expanded employee benefits that focus on employees’ preferences, such as child and elder care, flexible work arrangements, and wellness support and resources.
Here are three benefits trends for 2022 that employers should review and implement, if possible.
Flexible Work Arrangements
While there is a strong divide between returning to the office and working remotely, many organizations are shifting to hybrid work arrangements. Looking at the 42% of workers who prefer to be on-site full time and the other 58% who have adapted to the remote work life, flexible work arrangements are becoming the new normal. With the technology available to streamline hybrid work, such as videoconferencing and co-working spaces, workers have integrated communication and collaboration tools and resources to support the flexible work lifestyle.
Additionally, studies have shown that since 2019, there has been a 20% increase in flexible work arrangement benefits outside of compensation and traditional benefits. This increase could be explained by childcare costs, as well as the investment businesses have put into remote work the past two years.
Similar to flexible work arrangements, flexibility in paid time off has become a trending benefit. COVID-19 forced 80% of employers to address the significance of leave management resulting from workers requiring extended leave due to illness or caring for an ill family member. Additionally, 75% of employers changed their unpaid leave policies to paid leave to accommodate the impact of COVID-19. Leave policy changes also included new or separate COVID-19–related provisions, expansion of definitions, increased benefits coverage and duration, and waived wait or termination periods.
Factoring in that not everyone celebrates the traditional holidays, their birthdays, or requires the same quantity of sick days, two-thirds of employers are considering outsourcing Family Medical and Leave Act administration to assist with maintaining compliance as laws and policies continue to change regarding leave management.
Personalized, Holistic Benefits
As businesses and individuals begin to adjust to the “new normal,” employers have undoubtedly turned to more personalized, holistic benefit options. Employers are providing an allotted stipend for employees to choose what they want or providing voluntary benefits. These benefit options have varied from mental and physical health and financial wellness to childcare and pet insurance. Businesses can maximize personalized benefits to give employees the perks they want to make them happier.
- Mental Health: With one in five adults experiencing mental health issues each year, there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic magnified mental health problems and that 44% of employers are now investing in mental health benefits. However, despite the significant increase in mental health concerns and organizations prioritizing mental health in the workplace, only 47% of employees believe their organization provides sufficient mental health support. Moreover, Employee Assistance Program resources, while widely available, have not made their way into the hands of the employees who need them. To help bridge the gap between identifying mental health coverage and the resources to support it, employers should focus on normalizing it within the day-to-day conversations and overall company culture. Including mental health resources in HR and workplace policies, expanding coverage in employee benefits, and implementing into employee communications can help streamline positive impacts to mental health in the workplace.
- Physical Health: Along with supporting mental health, many companies are looking for holistic benefits that improve the overall physical health of their employees. Since COVID-19, organizations are not only providing gym memberships but are also offering stipends to support in-home gyms.
- Financial Wellness: Like most things during the pandemic, people’s financial circumstances ebbed and flowed. Between layoffs, furloughs, and terminations at the beginning of the pandemic, to the great resignation, financial literacy is becoming a hot commodity. If a company offers stock options or other types of compensation benefits, financial wellness may be a great benefit to add. Providing your employees the financial resources and tools to make informed financial decisions is likely a gesture they will appreciate.
- Pet Insurance: According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, over 23 million pets were adopted during the pandemic. But just like humans, furry friends are oftentimes considered an extension of family and can become ill or injured. Without insurance, pet care can become expensive quickly. Pet insurance is usually an affordable perk that provides extra care and coverage for your employees’ furry loved ones.
- Childcare: Daycares and other childcare facilities were shut down during the pandemic, leaving working parents scrambling for adequate coverage. That’s why many businesses have extended childcare benefits, from stipends and on-site childcare to flexible work arrangements. Childcare benefits are an invaluable benefit to your working parent employees.
Generally, benefits are complex as is. But add benefits shopping and administration to your plate and you’ve hit the trifecta. Benefits don’t have to be a headache, though. Partner with QBS who can provide you with benefits administration support. Whether you’re looking to add, expand, or re-evaluate your benefit offerings, QBS is your benefits expert. Contact us today to learn more!