Strategic leaders and HR practitioners know the value of heads up, heads down, future-focused thinking. The ability to adapt to what is coming will be a key asset as we shift into what is now the future of work. This leadership approach applies equally well to how we look at the future of employee benefits.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic placed enormous pressure on existing workplace behaviours, policies, and practices.
Going forward, the savvy HR practitioner will encourage their leadership and key decision-makers to ensure there is sufficient flexibility, care considerations, and value placed on mental health resources.
Additionally, they will look for appropriate ways to de-emphasize aspects of their current benefits program that are not as valued by their employee population. According to Tim Allen, CEO of Care.com, benefits that were seen as desirable perks pre-pandemic have lost some of their strong hold. With so many working from home, on-site daycare, commuter benefits, free or discounted on-site meals are worthy of de-prioritization.
With remote schooling requirements throughout the eye of the pandemic’s ‘stay-at-home’ storm, working moms have felt the impact of increased care responsibilities while trying to juggle work demands. As a result of these pressures, many have exited the workforce and this trend has been coined, She-cession.
In March 2021, the Canadian federal government launched a task force to address the regression in gender equity gains. According to Statistics Canada, women’s employment dropped seven per cent compared to men’s at four per cent.
Alongside childcare demands are elder-care concerns. Throughout the pandemic, employees have felt the push-pull effects of not only providing care for their children, but also bringing more focus to the needs of their aging parents and extended family. Worries about outbreaks of coronavirus in long-term care facilities and if their loved ones can be assured of receiving optimal care during trying times have added an additional layer of stress and concern.
Benefits programs that factor in support for resourcing child and elder care as well as back up or last-minute care services will become valued future-of-work employer offerings.
Decentralization from primarily onsite work to something in between (fully or partially remote work) may warrant a thoughtful review of your organization’s group benefits plan. Aspects of your benefits plan that support mental health should be reviewed with a keen awareness of the realities of increased levels of stress, burnout, turnover, and absenteeism.
By conducting an analysis of where benefits dollars are spent and where the value is seen to reside, along with a review of employee feedback, labour relations, retention, and absence management data, the story of your organization’s trends, needs, and pain-points will emerge.
Another helpful step is to compare against industry trends alongside predictions for expected increases in medical services and mental health issues. The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association’s annual fact book is a key resource to provide life and health insurance product spend by benefit category.
A trusted benefits advisor will be a valuable resource to help traverse the way forward and bring attention to any changes or interpretations in federal and provincial legislation that may impact the group benefits plan including parental leave, employment insurance, and other government sponsored programs.
How you navigate the way forward in this future of work world can only be enhanced by engaging a team of knowledgeable professionals. The path ahead can be made clear with the input from key resources such as employees, leaders, community mental health practitioners, a professional benefits advisor, and employee-centric legal counsel.
Accessing the resources at the right time and in a way that helps you efficiently and effectively navigate what is needed in the post-pandemic world of employee benefits is no small undertaking.
We are here to help and invite you to contact us at email@example.com. Let’s work together and create solutions that work best for you and your organization.