Benefit Strategies in a Post-Covid Era

For Employers
Oct 26, 2021
strategy meeting

In what’s been deemed as “The Great Resignation” millions of workers are quitting their jobs, with a staggering 4.3 million Americans leaving their jobs in August 2021. This has left HR teams everywhere in a predicament to wrangle an attrition problem and continue to attract the best and brightest talent everywhere, only in a way that has never been done before.

While COVID-19 presented challenges that left millions of people unemployed and/or seeking change, the business world is almost back to business as usual, hiring to either fill in gaps left in the wake of the pandemic, or to continue on their planned trajectories. As a result, talent teams are back to the drawing board figuring out how to keep employees happy, supported and motivated. 

Benefit Strategies Then

Ten years ago, the average worker dreamed of the perks that companies such as Google or Facebook offered. The endless raves on the free food, the pets in office, subsidized laundry and even the occasional in-house barber visits were somewhat of a golden goose and left other start-ups or “cooler” companies aspiring to one day offer to their employees. 

In fact, in 2012, benefit strategies in general seemed to follow the very straightforward, highly-sought after formula - offer the best perks and employees will follow. For companies listed as one of the 100 best companies to work in 2012, some of those perks and benefit strategies, included: 

  • Healthcare - 14 companies on the list offered to pay 100% of healthcare premiums
  • Childcare - ⅓ of companies offered on-site childcare
  • Work-life Balance - 60% of the top 10 of the top 100 companies were listed as place where employees felt “encouraged to balance their work and personal life”

Throw in the unusual said perks and overall, the Top 100 best companies to work for, was certainly aspirational. Over the last 10 years though, we’ve seen an evolution of employee benefits, but the real shift didn’t come until 2020. 

Benefit Strategies Now

In 2020, seemingly overnight, the world as it was, flipped upside down. Employers were forced to allow business to go remote, and many employees were thrust into the role of remote employee that must juggle personal and professional life all in one bubble. Other employees were required to work in-person, on the front lines, in extremely stressful scenarios. Suddenly, benefit strategies became more than free breakfast tacos or on-site yoga. 

Benefit strategies needed to transform. How do employers demonstrate  that they will help - not hinder -  an employee’s current work and life environment? A forward-thinking employee benefit strategy will answer that question. Life is blending with work. With an understanding that the pandemic shifted everyone’s view on what’s truly important and what matters most in the workplace, HR teams are unveiling more innovative benefit strategies, trying to appeal to the masses in an effort to thwart attrition and shine a spotlight on attraction and retention. Some of these benefit offerings include: 

  • Telecommuting - In no way is this a new benefit. But, if you look back at the same data set from 2012, only 85 companies out of the top 100 offered telecommuting as an option. With everyone being remote the last 1.5+ years, it’s hard to not offer that as part of the benefits package as it’s proven it can be done successfully. 
  • Sabbaticals - Companies are realizing that hard work should indeed be rewarded. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more and more companies offering fully paid sabbatical leave. 
  • Work-Life Balance - Again, not a new benefit, but to avoid Zoom fatigue, and burnout, work-life balance perks are a must, with some companies now offering monetary compensation for those who take a vacation
  • Paid parental leave - For years paid parental leave has been a sought-after benefit and it’s seeing a huge jump in companies that are taking into consideration the entire family, not just mothers - allowing employees to take leave to care for a child following its birth or adoption. 
  • Education Benefits - College graduates with debt, or employees yearning for continued education and training opportunities will appreciate the rise in employers offering tuition reimbursement and continued education opportunities. 

Benefit Strategies To Build a Resilient Workforce

Outside of the benefits that everyone is clamoring for, employers should place greater emphasis on the overall employee, like mental health and overall wellness. A strong focus on the holistically strong employee means empowering employees to help navigate challenging or unexpected times, to withstand unchartered waters  - thus enabling a resilient workforce. Without a holistically healthy employee, companies are left scrambling for help and substitutes, and it can impact their bottom line, yet there’s a stigma around these two issues in particular. 

  • Mental Health Solutions- Most people can agree that 2020 took its toll and left countless people exhausted, overwhelmed and riddled with anxiety. More companies should break down barriers and offer support and services like meditation, and counseling for mental health wellness.
  • Substance Addiction Treatment Programs- It’s no surprise that with the pandemic, there was an uptick in drinking, opioid use, tobacco and other substance use. So, as companies begin to offer innovative solutions to address the growing trend of attrition, it’s time they address overall employee wellness. And no employee is well if their consumption or misuse of a substance is out of control. Especially so, when it can affect their productivity, capabilities and overall work. 

By opening up the conversation around these two topics, offering support and resources that help elevate employees into the best versions of themselves, companies are well positioned to have a thorough and successful benefit strategy, but more importantly a healthy employee. 

As the world of HR and talent acquisition and retention continues to grapple with the ongoing effects of an unprecedented pandemic, one thing is certain: creativity and innovation in the vein of benefit strategies has never been more important. 

Are you curious about how  you can support employees with addiction and mental health issues during these challenging times? Quit genius can help you develop a forward looking benefit strategy, get in touch with us. 

Curious to learn more

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