Guess what’s playing a major role in the competition for talent? If you guessed better benefits, you’re right! But they probably aren’t the benefits you’re thinking about.
Three of the four top reasons employees’ gave for considering jumping ship were better benefits overall (38%), better healthcare benefits (36%) and work/life balance (36%), according to a report from Quest Diagnostics. Of course, the top reason was higher pay (50%).
What makes this report different is that it surveyed employers and employees to see where there is a parting of ways when it comes to benefit offerings, and employees’ wants and needs. Survey respondents included 423 HR benefits managers and executives with decision-making authority (HREs) and 846 employees at companies with more than 100 workers.
Cover healthcare benefits
While benefits have played a role in attracting and retaining talent, they’re usually the flashier type of company offerings like unlimited paid time off, remote work, pet insurance, etc.
But nowadays, healthcare benefits are expected by employees. They feel their employers should offer health benefits and cover at least the employee’s costs – if not the costs of their whole family. For the most part, workers have been happy with their healthcare benefits and haven’t paid much attention to them, as long as the premiums stay reasonable.
“While there has been significant attention on low pay, lack of flexibility, and disrespect at work as main reasons driving the ‘Great Resignation,’ our findings suggest employee health programs play a major role as well,” said Dr. Jay Wohlgemuth, senior VP, R&D and Medical, and CMO. “Employers are taking extraordinary measures to attract and retain talent, and healthcare benefits, access and affordability are areas of focus they can’t afford to overlook to compete for workers.”
Increased costs of health benefits
The study found that 87% of HREs and 89% of employees strongly agree that health insurance is too expensive. They also agree that it’s not going to get better any time soon thanks to the pandemic which will likely push costs even higher.
Other key findings:
- 35% of employees and 46% of HREs believe employees need to take on a bigger portion of their healthcare costs
- 77% of HREs say they want to lower the healthcare costs for employees but don’t have the resources they need to do so, and
- 63% of HREs feel “overwhelmed about making the best choices for [their] employees.”
At this point, being able to say your company pays 100% of employees’ healthcare costs or even 90% is a huge attraction and retention tool. People seek these employers out, which is important to know since 66% of employees in the study said they’re thinking about changing jobs next year or they’ve already started or recently finished changing jobs.
Focus on chronic conditions
While the pandemic had employers focused on everything they could do to keep their people safe from COVID-19, it’s time to pivot and focus on what the world is dealing with now – chronic conditions that were made worse because people didn’t seek out care during the pandemic.
This change of focus relates directly to the fact that 73% of HREs say they’re concerned that their people may now be sick with chronic illnesses due to their lack of wellness checks during the pandemic.
And it’s true. Sixty-three percent of employees said they put off preventive appointments and screenings for more than two years.
Another study by Quest, Health Trends, found there was a decline in new cancer diagnosis rates as well as other diseases during the pandemic. And as we all know, preventive care leads to early detection of chronic illnesses and better health outcomes.
What are employers to do?
The pandemic placed HREs’ focus on keeping employees safe from COVID-19 and then helping people with their mental health. Now, with chronic conditions taking the spotlight, 84% of HREs are still concerned about their employees’ mental health, but 85% are also concerned with their employees’ physical health.
“Our report highlights the strategic importance of employer-based healthcare strategies that deliver comprehensive mental and physical health benefits,” said Cecilia McKenney, senior VP and CHRO, at Quest Diagnostics.
Now, employee health screenings are a must-have benefit to be an employer of choice, according to 90% of HREs and 89% of employees.
Of course, telehealth and at-home screenings will play a big part in expanding care to employees in 2023. Both HREs and employees say they’re comfortable with at-home biometric testing. In fact, 76% of employees said they’d get more screenings if they could do them at home.
Adding these benefits will be a huge boon for employers. But they can’t replace in-person screenings. Employers will now have to provide access to both.
Because 66% of HREs and 74% of employees believe at-home screenings are meant to be a complement – not a replacement to – in-person screenings.