Powerful Returns Prompt Employers to Rethink Benefit Offerings
By Tori Weeks, CEAS, Regional Director, Health and Productivity Analytics and Consulting Practice, Prudential Group Insurance; Cortney Silva, LISW, CDMS, Regional Director, Health and Productivity Analytics and Consulting Practice, Prudential Group Insurance
The last few years have been challenging, and employers have made difficult, complex, and sometimes hasty decisions to address the changing needs of employees — from ongoing concerns about COVID variants to shifting attitudes about work, and more reports of stress, depression, and burnout.
Examples include expanding benefits to address financial hardships; recognizing additional caregiving responsibilities; covering health-related needs precipitated by delayed screenings, diagnoses, and treatment; and addressing emotional and behavioral health issues. Many employers have adjusted benefit plan designs and leave programs with positive financial results and positive effects on recruitment and retention. They have also developed resources and services to assist and support employees.
Financial Challenges Lead to Absences
In addition to the more traditional benefits mentioned above, employers have recognized how much financial health influences overall well-being as literature shows that financial, physical, and mental health are interconnected.1 Now more than ever, providing a holistic benefits program2 that promotes resources on these three well-being epicenters is recognized as a business imperative for human capital management.
Before the pandemic, many Americans were ill-prepared for unexpected emergencies, which has been exacerbated by the recent rise in inflation. Seventy-five percent of workers3 are living paycheck to paycheck, and 40% cannot cover unexpected bills of $400. As a result, more employees are forced to tap into their savings and 401(k) plans to make ends meet, which may lead to mental health challenges and result in lower productivity as they become stressed about how to feed their families and maintain housing. Subsequently, pulling funds from their retirement savings also leads to working longer to replenish savings.
A few ways that employers can help employees get back on track financially is by offering payroll-deducted savings programs, developing emergency funds with an employer match, and offering emergency savings options.
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