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March 10, 2022
Employers are taking a hard look at their total rewards programs because the Great Resignation or Great Realignment is still in full swing. According to Hartford’s 2021 Future of Benefits Study, employers are seeing increases in desired benefits everywhere from paid parental/family leave, PTO/sick leave and compensation across the workforce. The more innovative and practical the benefit, the more likely employers will be to attract and retain top talent.
Mental Health Benefits
We have said it before and will say it again. Employee Assistance Plans are an amazing mental health benefit, but employees are looking for more tangible and visible employer investments. SAP and Qualtrics conducted a study that showed that 80 percent of employees would stay at a company that provided high-quality mental health resources. Mental health benefits may include additional time off, flexible schedules, engagement and well-being surveys, and employee resource groups. However, more and more employers are establishing “no meeting” days and company-wide mental health days and implementing technology to address workloads. Training managers on inclusivity and psychological safety are big steps that also address gaps in culture that will lead to a positive mental health culture.
When employers initiate these mental health changes, leaders should consider promoting it to candidates and employees that these measures are being implemented to promote mental health. By continuously discussing mental health in public spaces (i.e., social media), employers are communicating that they are aware of and welcome discussions on mental health in the workplace. Employers should also communicate to employees that these programs will be continuously monitored for efficacy and impact, and they will continue to evolve and change for the better.
With the United States’ aging population, employers are beginning to recognize the need to support caregivers of all kinds. This includes individuals caring for aging family members. CNBC reported that many employers are expanding their family benefits. For example, retailer Best Buy has expanded its backup childcare benefit to provide employees with four weeks of full pay to care for family members. This includes siblings, in-laws, grandchildren and children 18 and older. The benefit began with paid time off for a spouse or domestic partner, parent and children under the age of 18. The electronic retailer also implemented a care concierge that assists employees to find care for family members with complex, chronic and ongoing care needs, including nannies and childcare.
Student Loan Assistance
There are programs where 401(k) plan contributions are tied to employees’ student loan debt payments and are currently the most widely-offered employer benefit for student debt assistance, according to the 2021 Employee Benefit Research Institute Survey. However, it’s not the only option available to employers. Soon, a greater share of employers plan to offer student loan debt payment counseling or loan repayment subsidies, similar to tuition reimbursement. An Employee Benefit Research Institute survey reported that nearly half of employers – 48 percent – currently have or plan to offer student loan debt assistance as a benefit, which has increased from 32 percent in 2018.