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This article was contributed by Maria Haggerty from Inc.
With a record four million people quitting their jobs in April alone, it’s no secret that the employer-employee model is going through a metamorphosis. Companies nationwide are losing employees who are moving on to start — or look for — new jobs that offer better money, more flexibility, responsive benefits, and other factors that fit their lifestyle.
As the American workforce continues prioritizing what they want out of a job or career, and how they are treated as an employee in this tight labor market, it’s incumbent on employers to get in a competitive, considerate frame of mind.
And it starts with three Fs: flexibility, family, and fairness.
Don’t expect the benefits and perks that attracted employees to your organization a year or two ago to do the same today, or at least not to the same degree.
While the flexibility to work remotely has long been a desirable incentive, the events of the pandemic pushed it more toward the category of expectation. Care.com recently polled 500 U.S. HR leaders and C-suite decision-makers about what their employee benefits mix will look like as a result of lessons learned from the Covid-19 crisis; 66% plan to offer greater work flexibility.
If you’re rethinking benefits for remote employees, make sure what’s being offered reflects their needs. This could mean providing reimbursement for home office supplies, contracting with an insurance carrier that provides national coverage, or even working with various state-specific providers to accommodate employees in different locations.
With generous paid time off being the top non-insurance benefit employees want, according to a survey of 1,500 U.S. workers from benefits provider Unum, increasing the amount of paid time employees can spend away from work is another worthwhile consideration.
You really can’t talk about the state of the workforce without addressing the importance of mental health, an issue that should not only be recognized, but prioritized. And according to new research from The Hartford, 59% of employees reported their employers have been more accepting of mental health challenges in the past year, and 58% said they are provided with schedule flexibility to address their mental health needs.
The term “work-life balance” is a wonderful idea in theory, but difficult to execute in reality. This theory was tested and proven throughout the pandemic as workers — especially caregivers — faced circumstances that made achieving anything close to balance challenging, if not impossible.
With the rise of decentralized workforces, some companies have responded to the evolving needs of their employees by swapping on-site childcare facilities with flexible childcare benefits. Others are subsidizing paid memberships to platforms that allow employees to find and manage family care, new parent support, and more. But it’s not just childcare you need to consider.
According to a 2020 survey by AARP, more than 50 million Americans now serve as unpaid caregivers for adult family members or friends. Fittingly, 41% of respondents in Care.com’s employee benefits report plan to offer their employees new or expanded senior care benefits.
Before making any major decisions, it’s a good idea to conduct your own intra-organizational research. You may be able to identify common needs that can be addressed to satisfy a large subset of employees.
There was a great piece on PBS about the relationship between unemployment benefits and the U.S. labor shortage, where one of the business leaders interviewed managing partner of Milan Catering and Event Design who summed it up perfectly.
She said, “I don’t have a labor shortage. But I’m also willing to pay people a fair wage and make sure that they’re safe and make sure that they know that. If someone’s raising their hand and saying a labor shortage, my answer is, are you paying them a fair wage? Are you giving them employee health care benefits? Are you taking care of people? I think the model is different now. People don’t just show up and work. You need to make sure that you’re invested in them.”
She’s right. The model has changed because the worker mindset has changed. The pandemic was a reality check for many people. Whether they endured a health crisis, faced employment issues, or had to adjust for any number of other situations life threw their way, what seems to be a universal byproduct is a new emphasis on quality of life. And that’s the key word employers should focus on: quality.
It’s something we embrace at Dotcom Distribution, where many employees are shift workers with young families. Through open communication and observing the PTO request patterns before and during the pandemic, we’ve learned that employees are motivated by having a fair bit of autonomy over their schedules.
The gap between any two workers’ circumstances and needs is wider than it has ever been in recent history. The key to supporting your existing workforce, and expanding it, lies in uncovering both unique and shared pain points and addressing them as generously as possible.