MetLife’s 6th annual Employee Benefits Trend Study (EBTS) was released recently, and with a focus on how employees are navigating work-life pressures in the wake of the Pandemic, its findings come highly anticipated.
COVID-19 forced businesses the world over to re-engineer the way they do business and rethinking their employee experience was a big part of this. The key findings from this year’s EBTS showed:
- businesses were positively surprised by how well their employees adapted to the challenges of COVID-19 and maintained productivity
- overall employee health and wellbeing were generally better among businesses who responded positively to the Pandemic and provided their staff with practical tools to evolve and adapt.
So what additional employee benefits learnings can be drawn from the 2020 study, and how can businesses optimise their offerings from here?
KEY FACTORS IMPACTING EMPLOYEES: mental health, financial uncertainty, concern for family & friends
Mental Health – room to improve & measure impacts
- 70% of employers identified mental health as the primary focus in optimising employee health in the wake of the Pandemic. However, 40% of respondents stated their employer was NOT offering benefits or programs to support or enhance their wellbeing.
- While it is encouraging to see close to 60% of employers had adopted strategies and benefits to assist employees, there is certainly room for improvement – particularly with close to half of Australians surveyed experiencing some form of mental ill-health due to COVID. While most employers are offering benefits/programs to support employees’ mental ill-health, 80% of employers surveyed were not tracking/measuring employee mental health.
Financial Uncertainty – more support needed
- Financial health concerns were found to be the most common cause of stress and mental ill-health among employees, with 5 in 10 employees reporting their employer had not offered any form of financial health support or access to resources.
General Stress – on the rise
- Whilst in Australia we have seen community transmission largely controlled, stress levels remain high, with 1 in 2 employees reporting they are more stressed now than before COVID, and 3 in 10 employees reported feeling run down and drained of their physical and emotional energy.
BACK TO BASICS: structured support from employers is essential
The findings show that active support from employers produces greater productivity, reduced stress levels, and enhances loyalty towards their employer. Employees who feel appreciated, are actively supported in working remotely (and provided with the tools to stay connected) are likely to be more productive, engaged, empowered, trust their employer’s leadership, and achieve their professional goals.
The top 5 programs employees would like from their employer to help ease their stress and improve their wellbeing are:
- Structured flexible work arrangements
- Increased paid time off
- Work from home policy – ongoing post COVID
- Additional Superannuation contributions
- Mental wellness programs.
RESET TO REAP REWARDS
At Honan, we’re pleased to administer and implement local employee benefit programs for over 150 global and domestic companies. Many of our clients saw the Pandemic as an opportunity to review their procedures and workplace culture and they are now seeing increased productivity and employee satisfaction as a result.
Flexible work arrangements are now seen as a key benefit sought by prospective employees when applying for new roles. In MetLife’s findings, it’s encouraging to see that 73% of companies have implemented formal flexible working arrangements and have plans to continue these in the future.
Here are some key features employers can build into their employee benefits programs to enhance employee wellbeing, engagement, and loyalty:
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
- Group Life/TPD and Income Protection cover and access to Financial Advice
- Funded or co-funded Private Medical Plans – ensuring employees have access to market-leading coverage
- Extended paid maternity/parental leave
- Extra personal/carers’ leave
- Formal Wellness initiatives e.g., free flu vaccinations, annual health checks, etc.
With you all the way
To learn more about how Honan can assist in tailoring a competitive local employee benefits program for your organisation, feel free to reach out at any time.
Head of Sales – Employee Benefits