What Benefits Employees are Asking for in 2022 and Beyond

No. 1: Flexible, hybrid work arrangements

It’s considered the No. 1 benefit employers can provide outside of salary and standard benefits.

“Hybrid work is here to stay,” said Jennifer Schoenig, VP, Guardian, in the webinar, The Future of Benefits. “We’ve become accustomed to new behaviors and lifestyles. Work and life have intermingled more than they did before. Now it’s the norm for most of us.”

Schoenig, who works from home, was able to coach softball for the first time. Working in the office with the time demands and commuting never allowed it previously.

But not everyone wants to be at home 100% of the time. Some people miss being with their colleagues. Others, who live alone or have children, want to get out of the house for a while. And each side has its benefits.

No. 2: Improvement of emotional & mental health program

Why the constant focus on mental health?

Well, let’s face it. The last few years haven’t been easy. Add to that, one in five adults experience mental health issues every year, and 55% of adults with mental health disorders go untreated.

It’s been that way for years. It’s just that the pandemic put a bigger spotlight on the issues and got more people talking about it which has reduced the negative stigma.

And while many employers do offer mental health resources, the problem is they’re underutilized. So how do you improve employee utilization of mental or emotional health resources?

No. 3: Implement a holistic employee leave strategy

The pandemic has caused 75% of employers to change their unpaid leave policies. And this trend will continue through 2022, according to a Guardian study.

This may not be surprising when you think about the fact COVID-19 prompted brand new or separate COVID-19-related policies. It was a must. And now 80% of employers said that senior leadership’s awareness of the “importance of leave management” has increased significantly due to COVID-19 and the number of employees that had to take leave to care for a family member or their own illness.

“COVID-19 definitely shifted the mindset of leave management and gave employers the opportunity to really hit a reset button on leave policies,” said Garlande Patz, Sr. Absence Management Practice Leader, Guardian. “So, we’re seeing the pandemic put that spotlight on the importance of supporting the emotional well-being of employees and realizing that many employers didn’t have policies or process in place that really permitted employees to take paid time off to care for a family member.”

From a policy perspective there’s been a huge growth in the number of companies that are offering paid family care benefits. In part it’s due to COVID-19, but it’s also due to the introduction of numerous paid state leave regs many of which do include coverage for family care. And employers want to ensure that their company policies are keeping up with those state benefits as well.

From a process standpoint COVID-19 has also highlighted some gaps, the biggest one being the lack of education that employees have regarding their company’s leave benefits. When it comes to leave, employees really want to know what benefits are available to them, where to go to read about their benefits, and then how to claim the benefits when they need them.

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