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July 7, 2020

Attending to Employee Wellbeing: a Must for Retention & Attraction

Employee Wellbeing: Retention and Attraction banner.

As the country continues to reopen, employees will have more employers to choose from, so organizations must tend to employee wellbeing and safety in order to be an employer of choice.

Many employees, 69% of those under 44 and 55% of those over 45, said they might consider changing jobs if their current employer didn’t do enough to protect them from COVID-19, according to a survey by The Harris Poll. This means that employers can’t simply reopen and expect operations to resume as normal.

Employers must develop comprehensive return-to-work plans before welcoming employees back. Included should be detailed steps for disinfecting the workplace and adhering to federal, state and local COVID-19 prevention guidelines. The plan should also address social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), screening procedures and layout changes. Employers must be thorough with their planning and be transparent about how they will protect employees. Anything less can jeopardize employee health and their commitment to the organization.

Safety Measures Being Taken

Without a vaccine, many employees who are lucky enough to return to work may not want to do so. Even workers who’ve maintained steady employment throughout the pandemic are weighing their safety against their paychecks. Employers understand these concerns and are doing what they can to keep workers safe.

Here are some of the common measures being taken by employers, according to the WorldatWork survey:

  • Deep cleaning (85%)
  • Smaller meeting sizes (83%)
  • Changes to workspaces (67%)
  • Mask requirements (64%)
  • Employee temperature screenings (52%)

Measures like these are promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because of their proven health effects. Beyond potentially saving lives, implementing these and additional safety measures can increase employee loyalty and attract prospective employees.

Mental Health & Holistic Benefits

With many businesses signaling that remote work will continue into the future, employers need to make employee mental health a priority. Nearly 1 in 5 workers said their employers are out of touch with their mental health stressors, especially their productivity and workloads, according to a Peakon survey. One of the culprits is remote working arrangements – an initiative that many assume reduces stress. According to a Neuvana study, nearly half of employees feel more stressed when working remotely. They report poor work-life balance (or none whatsoever) and unyielding productivity expectations. Given that these arrangements are likely to continue, employers need to step in before their workforces burn out.

Further, employees may be facing countless other stressors beyond work-from-home arrangements, such as caring for an aging loved one, financially supporting dependents, working a second job and worrying about physical health. Keeping these circumstances in mind makes it easier to see why employees’ mental health, working from home or not, may be suffering.

Offering holistic employee benefits is a way to improve mental health and reduce stress. These benefits may include:

  • Mental health benefits, including reimbursements for therapy or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Caregiving benefits, such as vouchers or reimbursement
  • Financial wellness resources, including employee purchasing programs
  • Family counseling

Employers should think about what initiatives will resonate with their employees; there’s no one-size-fits-all program. For instance, if many employees are caregivers but the business can’t afford to subsidize the caregiving, allowing for flex scheduling can be an amicable compromise. Essentially, employers need to consider what would enable employees to better balance their personal and professional responsibilities – more so than ever in the new COVID-19 normal.

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