The pandemic has put many employees through the ringer. You’ve seen it first hand. But the employees who’ve come out on top are the ones who have their employer’s support!
Because it has “a direct impact on the health and resilience of employees,” according to Mercer’s “Health on Demand” survey.
Stress isn’t your employees’ friend. And the pandemic has brought most employees a ton of stress. So, it’s no surprise to Benefits pros that the pandemic has affected employees mental, physical and financial health.
In fact, 20% of U.S. employees reported they felt less physically healthy or fit.
The survey also found:
- More than 50% of employees had at least some level of stress during the pandemic
- 25% of employees have experienced mental health issues (i.e., depression or anxiety), and
- 20% are financially worse off than before the pandemic.
Benefits pros are learning just how much of a positive effect an employer’s support can have on employees’ health and resiliency. And according to Mercer, it’s the most important finding of the survey.
Big impact from essential support
The pandemic brought out the good in companies. They wanted to make sure their employees were happy and healthy working from home or the office. Because as we know, employees who are stressed, sick and burned out aren’t productive.
But it’s not just productivity at issue. Employers who truly care about their employees, want them to be happy and healthy for their own well-being.
And the survey showed that employers who provided essential support during the pandemic had a big impact on employees:
- They were less inclined to report their pandemic experience as “mostly” or “entirely negative” compared to those who didn’t get support (25% vs. 49%), and
- 45% were less likely to leave their job because of their employer’s support.
What else can you do to make sure you understand and support the diverse needs of your workforce?
To support employee health and well-being, the study found employers need to do the following four things:
Supply diverse, valued benefits
Customizing your benefits package to meet the needs of your staff is “highly” or “extremely” valued by 55% of employees. Having something for everyone increases your chances of each employee finding something of value.
When offered 10 or more health and well-being benefits, 52% point to it as the reason they stay at their job. That’s compared to 32% who are offered one to five benefits/resources. Here’s the kicker: Employees in the “10 or more benefits” group say they’re “more confident” they’ll be able to afford needed health care AND they believe their company cares about their health and well-being.
Offer digital healthcare access
The pandemic was the reason for the sudden popularity of telemedicine:
- 20% of employees were first-time users during the pandemic
- 23% used it more than previously during the pandemic, and
- 72% plan to continue its use.
An uptick in the use of telemedicine isn’t the only big increase of technology. Employees showed a strong interest in digital health tools like apps that find providers to virtual reality self-care tools. Employees’ interest in digital healthcare tools from 2019 to now has been enormous. Firms need to include virtual visits and access to care because they’re a valued benefit to employees.
Decrease stress, anxiety
The survey revealed that 25% of respondents indicated they were highly or extremely stressed. The sad news: Of the 13 countries in the survey, the U.S. had the highest percentage of highly or extremely stressed respondents. The UK only had 16%. On the other hand, 48% of U.S. respondents gave their employers mental health support the thumbs up, rating it as highly or extremely valuable.
If you want to create a strong bond that’ll lead to steadfast loyalty, provide a strong mental health and counseling program. Reason: 40% of employees said they had a hard time finding quality mental health care. And the lower a person’s wages were, the harder it was for them to find access to it with the percentage rising to 47%. That number jumped even higher to 58% for the LGBTQ+ community. And this group placed the highest value on employers providing mental health support.
As you can see, mental health care support is much sought after and valued by a large majority of employees. Avenues for employers to pursue that are cost effective: virtual counselling via video chat with mental health professionals, via text and via AI-powered text chats – no human involvement.
Address bias in health care
Employees who earn more find it easier to afford medical and mental health care. That’s pretty much the norm, and it shouldn’t be. Reason: The people who need it the most, typically can’t afford it.
In the survey, respondents with a household income (HHI) the same as or less than the U.S. median were less likely to feel confident they can pay for their family’s medical needs (60%) than those above the median (83%). Benefits pros need to help their companies create strategies earmarking benefits/resources to those who have the greatest need.