Beginning with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the landscape of business has undergone rapid change and forced an overhaul of our understanding of “work.” Themes like adaptability and flexibility rose to the top and remote work or forms of hybrid work remain as the dominant “new normal.” These themes are indicators of the evolving definition of the future of work: an emphasis on employee wellbeing.
If there is one thing that the COVID-19 work era brought into focus, across industries, it’s that companies are made up of individuals and that playing to the individual needs of employees is a boon to businesses. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2022 Employee Benefits Survey, the way that companies and employees are defining wellbeing and benefits has changed drastically. Employees seek a more well-rounded, holistic approach to benefits. Family care benefits, flexible work benefits, and broader health and wellness offerings are each top priorities for employees.
The Future of Work is Flexible
When the risks of the pandemic drove employees out of office and into their homes, a major shift occurred in American work culture – and, in some cases, resulted in a culture clash. Since April 2021, around four million American workers quit their jobs each month. The most common cited reason: workplace inflexibility.
The pandemic era focused attention to the vital concepts that: a great deal of office work can be accomplished from home and demands between family care and work often conflict. Even today, work flexibility and family care benefits remain top priorities for employees. A popular benefit that assists with caregiving expenses while an employee is at the office or working from home is a dependent care flexible spending account, which can work in tandem with flexible scheduling.
Workplace Flexibility by the Numbers
- 63% of employers offer a hybrid work option to their employees. [SHRM]
- 18% of workers in developed countries do not go into the office at all. [Future Forum]
- 62% of all organizations surveyed by SHRM offer certain subsidies and reimbursements for work-from-home employees.
- 95% of organizations with work-from-home employees will cover the full costs of work-related technology. [SHRM]
A Better Approach to Employee Wellbeing
Healthcare has always been viewed as one of the most important benefits that an organization can offer. The pandemic heightened the need and value of traditional healthcare, and simultaneously expanded employee notions of wellness. Employees now seek new benefit offerings to match. Healthcare plans themselves, are highly adaptable to industries and employee populations – in fact, many employers find immense value in a custom-fit employee benefit solution.
Nearly seventy-two percent (72%) of organizations offer a fully-insured health benefit, while around 26 percent provided benefits through a self-insured health plan with a third-party administrator. Both have flexibility to add-on additional benefits that have increased in popularity, such as flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, dependent-only plans, and telemedicine offerings. Adding these new offerings in addition to traditional healthcare can promote a more well-rounded approach to wellbeing.
A focus on wellbeing also often includes mental health coverage. Prioritizing the mental facet of employee wellbeing predates the pandemic, but amid record breaking resignations and burnout plaguing many employees, the need for mental health benefits is clear.
It’s About Value
The future of work and employee wellbeing in 2023 can be summed up in one sentence: it’s about value. The rulebook has been thrown out the window and there is no longer one definition of the workplace. Employers have started to focus on benefit offerings that make the most sense for employees and employers alike. Employees seek the dignity of being recognized as individuals, not metrics, with the knowledge that their employer cares about their overall wellbeing. Employers that thrive tend to focus on adaptability, flexibility, and solutions geared towards a competitive advantage.
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