By Rose Miller
As fall and winter approach, employers will not only have to plan for the on-going pandemic, but they must also address the challenges faced by working parents, a stressed workforce, decisions involving onsite versus a remote workforce and possibly shutting down again.
These decisions involve creating comprehensive and legally compliant policies and procedures.
It is also a time for employers to think about a comprehensive approach to its company’s benefits. Like every aspect of the business, employers need to assess how the pandemic has impacted their entire benefit offering. They need to also consider how new federal and state mandated leaves interplay with paid time off policies and insurance benefits. Based on their findings, they may want to revise what type of benefits are critical to both the company and its employees.
According to the annual MetLife Benefit Trends Survey for 2020, generational demographics show a glimpse on how businesses should revise their benefit offerings and possibly reallocate funds to better meet employee needs.
The benefits survey shows:
• Health Insurance continues to be a top “must have” for employees of every age with 95 percent for Boomers, 88 percent for Gen-X, 81 percent for Millennials and 68 percent for Gen-Z.
• Another must have is a 401(k) with 69 percent of Boomers, 80 percent of Gen-X, 68 percent of Millennials and 60 percent of Gen-Z wanting this benefit.
• Company provided Auto Insurance was surprise must have with 70 percent of Boomers, 70 percent of Gen-X, 67 percent of Millennials and 44 percent of Gen-Z marking auto insurance a desired benefit.
• Voluntary benefits scored lower than 50 percent with 44 percent of Boomers, 34 percent of Gen-X, 49 percent of Millennials and 34 percent of Gen-Z finding this benefit as needed.
Most employer provide life insurance yet company auto insurance was rated much higher by employees. According to data collected by the Society of Human Resources, there some other important trends that reinforce the new normal of blending work and home life.
A revision to the trend to have one pool of paid time off began with New York and other states mandating Paid Family Leave. Everyone is waiting to see if the federal government’s Family First Corona Response Act will be extended beyond Dec. 31. There is the new mandated sick leave beginning in 2021.
If the PTO allocated time includes family and sick, the pool should be reduced accordingly. Rather, employers may want to consider supplementing wages for leave of absences. We are also recommending employers to carve out the mandated sick leave that will require a carryover when the PTO policy does not.
Wages that were factored for travel/time or geographic location (big city versus small city) may be adjusted while travel may be reduced or factored downward to match the home location.
Wellness and mental health benefits should be considered to address employee anxiety, increased drug/alcohol use and domestic violence all of which have reported to increase significantly during the pandemic.
Telemedicine and telehealth services are increasing popular and successful. They have proven to reduce health insurance utilization.
More frequent pay period processing is a reoccurring request. Some payroll companies are offering this as a value add.
A workplace survey by Deloitte on recruiting and retaining Millennials and Gen-Z have some specific benefit requests from these groups. They are:
They are two times more likely to stay in a company that have a demonstrated diverse and inclusive workforce.
The company benefits include professional development/tuition reimbursements/student loan assistance.
Family-related benefits such as family planning, childcare assistance, adoption assistance, eldercare and transition back to work programs.
What we can surmise from this data is employees are seeking a holistic mix of programs and benefits to help them navigate the stresses of the pandemic and their careers.
Companies that create benefits that support their employees’ new normal are better positioned to meet the evolving challenges of the pandemic and increase company performance while supporting its employees.
By Rose Miller