CoAdvantage- The pandemic has hit workers hard, and it’s led to wide-ranging impacts that touch on unexpected areas. For example, workers seem to be valuing their benefits programs more than ever.
According to MetLife’s 19th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study (2021), nearly two-thirds (62%) of employees say that benefits are more important to them now because of the pandemic. That’s at least partially because the pandemic has highlighted acute health and safety risks, and 72% of employees told MetLife that “the safety and protection of themselves and their families is more important now than ever before.”
But it’s not just health-related benefits: 60% of employees are also interested in their employer providing a greater selection of non-medical benefits as well.
That might be due to some of the pandemic’s secondary impacts.
Financial difficulties, for example, have been common among those affected by COVID-19. Reviewing one-month follow-up surveys with COVID-19 patients discharged from the hospital, The Journal of Hospital Medicine found that 23.2% (more than 1 in 5) had used all or most of their savings as a result.
“Most of us are either directly impacted by being furloughed, laid off or receiving a reduced income, or we know someone who is,” Leston Welsh, head of business segments at Prudential Group Insurance, told HR Executive. “The pandemic has driven home the idea that no one is immune to unexpected life events that can disrupt their income.”
In other words, a selection of benefits that seem fine during normal times may seem inadequate during emergency or crisis periods. COVID-19 appears to have strained employees financial and psychological resources, leading them to look for more support from employer benefit offerings.
Indeed, it appears the pandemic may be shifting employees’ view of their employer’s role in offering benefits.
Research from the Employee Benefits Research Institute and Greenwald Research found that 70% of employees say they need their employer’s help to maintain their financial security and health. Interestingly, 62% say they think it’s the employer’s responsibility to help in those areas.
“Employees are placing greater value on benefits because they are more aware of how these benefits can help them during a life event, including paying for high out-of-pocket medical costs and hospital visits,” says Welsh. “Therefore, many families are looking at their employer-provided benefits trying to figure out how they recover and get back on track to be financially well.”
Employers seem to be responding to workers’ wishes.
MetLife also reports that nearly three-quarters of employers are offering more “added-value services” (like Employee Assistance Programs, at 74%), are investing in new benefits (70%), and are expanding their portfolio of voluntary (or employee-paid) benefits (66%).
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