How firms are reshaping their benefit plans to meet the needs of a changing workforce in a post-pandemic world
The past two years have proved that the health and resilience of a workforce is critical to the success of a business.
There have been many successes. Plenty of companies adapted quickly, pivoting benefits to make sure they were suitable for a largely home-based workforce and putting measures in place to support their employees. Awareness of social issues grew, and many businesses ramped up their focus on diversity, equity & inclusion.
However, there have been costs. Employees have struggled with depression, loneliness and anxiety, critical healthcare has fallen by the wayside, and many people faced redundancy and suffered financial stress.
The results from our Mercer Marsh Benefits Health on Demand research captured how employees are thinking and feeling in this pandemic world, and clearly showed that well-thought-out well-being strategies can make a meaningful difference. Employers who show they care foster a more resilient, healthy and loyal workforce, and are in a unique position to help their employees, which can also lead to higher productivity and lower staff turnover.
Speaking at our Health on Demand webinar on ‘Employer Support Matters’, three global employers, Maersk, Siemens and AECOM shared the steps they have taken to protect and promote the well-being of their people and their plans to continue making benefits more equitable, diverse, and sustainable.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
Lorna Macmillan, Global Head of Benefits & Rewards Business Partner – Americas, Maersk said: “From the beginning, as a company our focus was very clear, very consistent and very transparent on three things:
“Globally, we curated a large number of different tools and materials around employee well-being, but the real value came from our local teams, taking that content, adding their own, making it personal, and making it real for whatever was happening in their particular space.
“We started putting in place an employee assistance program globally in July 2019. I wish I could say the timing was anything more than luck, but it wasn't. But it meant that we had a really strong, consistent platform to actually support our employees with independent and confidential advice and support… We were already running webinars and sessions for employees and leaders through the EAP and we were able to expand that fairly quickly.”
Mary Bissette-Clarke, Senior Director HR - Global Benefits, Siemens Canada Limited, said: “The world's changing, the pandemic changed it. We have to change as an organization, and change creates stress. Now, as long as I can remember at Siemens, health and safety has been really important to us and we have continued to evolve our programs throughout the pandemic, because the number one asset for all of us, it's usually our people. So, investing in health and well-being is investing in future success, whether that’s through productivity or resiliency.
“For us to do that, we need to make sure the culture is supportive, and that we have a healthy workforce, and it's agile to support our needs. The markets we're in are moving very quickly, so we need a workforce that can change and be resilient to support the business needs.
“Globally, we have a portal called My Growth Portal, which is all about empowering our people, which is one of our strategic focuses. So, getting them on a journey to develop themselves both in their career, as well as personally… It also supports the change in our culture to move away from the standard performance reviews and go into growth talks, in alignment with country requirements.”
Bernie Knobbe, SVP, Global Benefits & Well-being, Human Resources, AECOM said: “We were on a journey to have a 24/7, 365 year-round global wellbeing program in 2020, but we moved it up three months earlier in order to deliver for the business at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also implemented a My Strength app earlier this year, partnering with our global EAP. So, we're on a constant journey to enhance and improve the program.
“We also had a one-month campaign that actually has been an ongoing recommendation ever since which was called Let's Talk. This was a campaign globally around encouraging Manager’s to ask their team members ‘How are you doing? Is there anything I can do to support you?’ etc. to promote emotional and social well-being, especially while many are working remotely.
“One-on-ones to me are just a best practice way to manage and lead a team, but what we found is not everyone were doing them, and people didn't feel comfortable asking for the support they needed. So, that became a core request that we made of everyone, especially in the manager trainings, to please make sure you become comfortable enough to do that. And if you're not, remember we have the global EAP including frequent global ‘well-binars’.
The other thing I'll mention is that you're never done, and you need to continue to listen to employees and the business and to continue to morph, improve and grow the program. And we try to do that to meet them where they are in their well-being journey.
In fact, our employee survey and our leadership surveys this year, as well as our pulse surveys, had a question around does your manager support and enable both your and your team's well-being. We also have a Nominate your manager program where people can nominate managers to receive a well-being certificate of leading by example. So we're trying to just make it part of what you do every day as an employee, as a manager of the organization and not make it feel like it's an HR program, make it feel like it's just part of the caring culture and our DNA. So I hope those are some helpful tips and hints as ‘aha’ moments of what we've been doing.”
The pandemic has accelerated existing trends and disparities in well-being programs so it is now more important than ever before for employers to assess the value they are delivering.
Watch the webinar, and find out more about how global employers have reshaped their well-being plans to support employees in the moments that matter. Download the Health on Demand report to learn how you can create a benefits program to boost well-being, loyalty and engagement.