As the country grapples with the changing nature of the coronavirus crisis within its borders, employers work to address the changing needs of their workers as well.
The 10th Annual Workplace Benefits Study from insurance and wealth management company Guardian shined a light on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts employee benefits and the workplace, both now and in the future.
It found that workers who believe their employers handled the pandemic well displayed greater loyalty to the company. These employees were far more likely to plan to stay at their company for over a decade, compared with those who thought their companies managed it poorly (49% versus 28%).
How companies are addressing employee health and well-being during the pandemic
Many employees had a difficult time adjusting to life during the pandemic, and this left a negative impact on their mental and emotional well-being. For instance, Guardian found that:
- 50% of full-time employees say the pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives
- 40% of employees believe the pandemic has negatively affected their emotional health
- 28% of employees have experienced increased anxiety, depression or other mental health issues due to the pandemic
Just over a third of employers report negative impacts to employee well-being (35%) and morale (34%) during the health crisis as well. With these numbers in mind, it should come as little surprise that 56% of employers agree on the importance of expanding employee use of mental and emotional health resources.
What is surprising, however, is how few companies have moved to address these concerns: Only 16% added mental health resources to their employee benefits packages, while another 24% offered nothing at all.
In contrast, employers had a vastly different response to employee schedules and work arrangements. Compared with the 30% of companies that offered remote work before the pandemic, 73% currently have work from home arrangements with their employees and 58% plan to continue this setup in the future.
Guardian found that 58% of employers today have made the connection between flexible schedules and employee well-being, versus 48% of employers in 2019. A different survey from Ivanti found that about half of remote workers experienced a boost in morale after beginning work from home, even despite working longer hours, which may further explain why companies prioritized this initiative over others.
Changes to employee benefits don't address workers equally
Guardian also saw more companies adopting technology to support its increasingly remote workforce during the pandemic:
- 55% of companies increased their use of collaborative technology during the pandemic to improve communication
- 37% of companies reported an acceleration in their organization's use of benefits technology as a result of the pandemic
But even though organizations implemented these changes with their employees in mind, some are still getting left behind. Just over 4 in 10 (44%) underemployed workers reported that adequate benefits were lacking for part-time employees.
Meanwhile, another survey from Express Employment Professionals revealed that only about a third of employers prioritize the needs of working parents and working caregivers in their benefits decisions.
Methodology: On behalf of Guardian, Zeldis Research conducted two separate online surveys of employers and employees in February and March 2021.
Employer results are based on a national survey of 2,000 benefits decision-makers covering all industries. The survey data is nationally representative of all US businesses with at least five full-time employees, and has been weighted to reflect data from the US Census Bureau.
Employee results are based on a survey of 2,000 employees ages 22 and up who work full-time or part-time for companies with five or more workers. The survey data is nationally representative of American workers at these companies, and reflects the actual proportion of workers in the US based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau.