Feb 09, 2021
BenefitsPRO–Emily Taylor, Naturally Slim CFO & CHRO « Back to The Skinny
The biggest mistake employers can make in 2021 is to act as though working from home is exactly the same as working in the office. Most companies were not designed to work from the home, so employers should stop promoting the idea that working from home is a luxury. Most employees did not make the decision to be a remote worker, and abrupt changes can negatively impact employee mental and physical health.
A new world of remote work has increased demand for employers to provide the benefits and resources employees need. Employers will need to make an effort to listen and respond to employee demands and find benefit solutions that focus on improving both their physical and mental health. In the continued era of working from home, here’s how to adjust to employees’ newly shifted needs.
Find out how employees are really feeling.
Meeting employee needs—financially, emotionally, and physically—has been a struggle in 2020, and employers need to adapt accordingly. The only way employers can expect to help their people is if they can define the root cause of the problems first.
In a world of remote work, HR leaders can lose sight of what their people are doing behind closed doors, in fact according to alcohol.org, one-third of employees have admitted to using alcohol or drugs during working hours since March of 2020. To maintain transparency and keep up employee engagement, employers need open channels of communication to ensure they know how they are truly feeling during these times and what benefits employees require to meet their mental and physical needs. For example, they can send out regular surveys or set up one-on-one meetings to get a pulse on the workforce, potentially unveiling unknown stressors.
Make the mental and physical health of employees the top priority.
Employers are beginning to offer more benefits that address the mind-body connection and are realizing that neither mental nor physical health can be addressed in a vacuum. The pandemic has changed the definition of wellness to encompass not only physical health, but the mental and financial health of employees.
To relieve the stress of added logistics of multiple benefits, employers will need a single solution that rolls up mental wellbeing and chronic condition management. According to Naturally Slim data, 45% of employers reported that if they were only able to provide one health solution for their employees, it would be a weight management solution because preventive benefits can address conditions before they even appear.
Excess body fat, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and abnormal cholesterol levels can increase a person’s risk of chronic diseases. If these factors can be effectively managed prematurely, other chronic diseases can be avoided. Not only can employers help their teams drive significant clinical improvements amongst employees, but they can also achieve monumental cost savings. On average, every dollar invested in an employee wellness program yields $6 in health care savings.
Incorporate employee-centric decision making.
Though leaders might be more hesitant to take risks, they need to meet employees where they are and take inventory of the solutions their people truly need and want. Employers reported that 43% of the benefits they offered were chosen and implemented due to employee demand, according to data from a Naturally Slim survey. In 2021, employees need to be given a stronger voice.
Putting more employee-centric decision-making at the forefront will ultimately increase employee engagement and morale, and in turn, improve productivity. My prediction is that the percentage of solutions offered based on employee demand will only continue to increase in the upcoming year.
Allow employees to access benefits, such as e-learning, from home.
With many employees working remotely and the increasing likelihood of many more companies going fully remote, employer-offered benefits need to be accessible and provide a digital experience. By the same thread of meeting people where they are, employers need to offer benefits and tools that are interactive and accessible through podcast-like experiences or digital programs they can access from their own devices at home.
Even though the day-to-day can still feel like shifting sand during these times, communicating expectations will be key. While there are a number of tools that employers and leaders can use to benefit remote workers, the most important step is to get on your employees’ level and open up the conversation about their needs.