People first: The future of cities post-COVID 

illustration of people first city
How can we bridge the health equity gap to create “people-first cities”?

People across the planet are grappling with the effects of multiple overlapping challenges. COVID-19, climate change, social inequality, supply-chain disruptions, persistently high inflation and the probability of recession pose significant obstacles to advancing healthy societies and building climate resilience.

Cities concentrate these challenges but may also hold the key to overcoming them.

Although cultural shifts have altered the way we live and work, cities continue to flourish. Today, more than half the world’s population (55%) lives in cities, up from just 30% in 1950. And by 2050, this figure is expected to soar to 70%, with an estimated 2.5 billion people migrating to urban areas over the next 20 years.

Despite speculation, cities will be the centers of wealth, prosperity, creativity, and innovation.

In a “continuous crisis” era, workers are increasingly turning to their employers for support.

Prioritizing the health and well-being of all employees has become crucial. Businesses have the opportunity to address:

  • Economic inequality
  • Social inequality
  • Health inequality
  • Financial inequality

These issues are becoming concentrated in urban areas as more than half the world’s population now lives in cities.

“Companies should want to exist in cities where a diverse workforce is flourishing. We want people to stay above water financially and really live healthy lives.

-Amy Laverock, Global Advice and Solutions Leader, Mercer Marsh Benefits

Providing a wide range of benefits isn’t enough. Most people want to work for companies that have a positive impact on the world. Almost 50% of employees would consider resigning over a misalignment of values.

Make sure your benefits express what you value.

“Smart CEOs understand that if they… treat their employees as the most important stakeholder, they have a higher chance of becoming an employer brand of choice.”

-Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever and co-author of Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take

Our people-first platform helps organization navigate the transformation, improving the well-being of those in people-first cities.

Explore how investing in employee health and well-being is the right thing to do for business and society. Download part 3 of our series, and stay tuned for more!

People first: The future of cities post-COVID

Welcome to brighter

Employees are calling for healthier societies that support well-being

In the post-COVID environment and a “continuous crisis” era, workers are increasingly seeking assistance and turning to their employers for support. Prioritizing the health and well-being of all employees is now crucial.

Businesses have an opportunity to address economic, social, health and financial inequalities.

A concentrated urban population means a concentration of economic and societal issues. Today, two out of three major cities expect climate change to seriously compromise their public health services.

Providing a wide range of benefits is no longer enough. Most people want to work for companies that have a positive impact on the world. According to Paul Polman’s Net Positive Employee Barometer: from quiet quitting to conscious quitting, nearly half of employees say they would consider resigning if the company’s values don’t align with their own.

Our response: Use employee benefits as an expression of your company’s values. 

We must cultivate healthy, thriving companies to have flourishing and prosperous cities, societies, and workforces. If designed well, such a change can enable agility and resilience across businesses and institutions through times of volatility and increasing uncertainty. At Mercer, we call the new paradigm or platform we need to aim for the People-First City.
David Anderson

Chief Commercial Officer, Mercer

Discover how investing in employee health and well-being is the right thing to do for your business and society in our final article, which includes:

  • Insight from Mercer’s Health on demand study: A global survey understanding how workforce needs and attitudes around employee benefits are changing in response to 21st century issues
  • Unique perspectives from our discussion on how businesses can improve the lives of everyone they touch for a steep boost in long-term shareholder returns (with Paul Polman, Unilever CEO from 2009–2019, business leader, campaigner and co-author of Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take)
About the author(s)
David Anderson

At Mercer, we are passionate about solving our client’s toughest challenges and making a real difference in people’s lives.

As our Chief Commercial Officer and a senior partner, my priority is to bring a commercial vision and strategy to unlock the true value of Mercer’s capabilities and enable exceptional client experiences. We do this by putting the voice of our clients at the heart of everything we do to become your trusted partner.

I believe building a growth culture is the key to creating lasting client impact. By embracing change and curiosity, our 25,000 colleagues globally serve our clients in more ways and in more destinations to help you succeed.

Samira Elasmar

As the Growth & Market Expansion leader at Mercer, my primary objective is to drive growth initiatives with a strong emphasis on expanding into new markets and cities. Central to my role is the understanding of the challenges faced by clients at local and global levels, enabling me to translate that understanding into concrete solutions. By deeply comprehending the specific needs and intricacies of each market and city, we at Mercer are committed to delivering tailored solutions that effectively address our clients' needs, empowering them to thrive in their unique environments. Through these actions, we not only achieve sustainable growth but also position Mercer and Marsh McLennan as industry leaders, known for our ability to meet clients' needs and exceed their expectations.

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