Covid effect: companies focus worker benefits towards “well-being” strategies

Stress, burnout and mental health problems are the main concern of employers today when it comes to worker benefits. This is one of the conclusions of a study carried out by Willis Towers Watson (WTW) on the trends in this area in companies during the years 2020 and 2021. In other words, in the midst of a pandemic.

The report is made every two years worldwide, but it also has a decrease in Chile, where 74 companies participated, and at the Latin American level (892 companies). The companies surveyed are of different sizes (mainly medium and large) and from the areas of manufacturing, general services, energy, engineering and technology, financial services, health and retail.

The objective is to cover the main focuses, actions, priorities and challenges that companies are having in relation to the benefits they deliver to workers, focusing on how to improve the employee experience, how trends have changed and which ones have been accelerated in recent years (especially due to the effect of the coronavirus). In addition, it includes what are the emerging focuses and new challenges to optimize the experience of the workforce in areas such as well-being (physical, mental, financial and social) and digital strategy, which include a benefits strategy.

59% of the people surveyed are related to Human Resources, 29% to Compensations, and 48% to the Benefits area of ​​the firms. 31% of them involve global, regional or multinational responsibilities among their functions.

Two years ago the result of the survey showed that companies were beginning to worry about the world of wellbeing or “well-being” (physical and emotional). They listened to it a lot among their collaborators, so they decided to put it as the priority. Today, according to Francisco Bravo, Head of Health & Benefits at Willis Towers Watson, this issue is key: “Between 2019 and 2021 investment in wellness exploded and perhaps the great example is the success of the Chilean company Betterfly. Currently there is no company that does not talk about wellbeing ”, says Bravo.

The executive even adds that although before the pandemic most companies had planned to enter this area in the next three years, Covid-19 advanced it by three months, mainly in relation to emotional well-being and mental health. “There were several months – during the confinement that many people were in the houses, where the ignorance of the virus and the rates of increase generated a lot of uncertainty, in addition to the estrangement of the family group. All this caused a great mental exhaustion ”, explains the executive of WTW.

For his part, Ignacio Puebla, head of the Department of Human and Organizational Factors at Mutual de Seguridad, agrees that it is clear that the impact of the coronavirus on mental health within organizations continues to be a challenge. “The importance of promoting well-being measures lies in designing and implementing multifactorial intervention strategies to mitigate their impact in a collaborative way.

For this, the logistical support of the organizations, the commitment of senior management and the implementation of the changes with the support of peers and / or colleagues, results in a sense of security, ”says Puebla.

More about Working market

It is striking that, when asking employers for their self-assessment as a company about five benefit areas, the most important was the “employee experience”.

In other words, how workers interact and use their benefits. 88% of the respondents recognized that this item was the priority for the coming years.

Precisely, according to Bravo, one of the problems that the industry has is how to communicate the benefits to keep all groups happy, especially the millennials, who currently represent between 50% and 60% of the informal and formal work in the country .

“A large part of this segment, more than profamily, want to travel and have fun, so all the benefits of many companies that still came from a reality of the 80s and 90s, began to become obsolete. So they had to modernize to appeal to this group from a profit standpoint, which produced another effect: It caused other segments, such as baby boomers, to do a profit reset. Now they too want to travel and enjoy life more, ”says Willis Towers specialist Watson.

Another priority, according to the survey, was the importance of data and benefit analysis, which obtained 72% of the importance. This refers, for example, to understanding the wants and needs of employees and improving data on well-being, where one of the main actions to take is to generate “listening strategies”, according to WTW research.

The study also gives an idea of ​​how it has changed and how work models are expected to continue to evolve. In fact, when asked about the future of the work modality in the next two years, almost a quarter (26%) answered that it will continue mainly remotely, while the hybrid modality reached 33%. In fact, the survey serves as a market study for the human resources areas of companies, because it allows them to see what employees are asking for and what are the trends to invest.

“One of the great changes that companies are experiencing with respect to the hybrid work modality is the perception, on the part of employees, that they will now have two work environments. Thus, in some cases they will be physically in the office, while in other instances they will perform virtually ”, concludes Ignacio Puebla.

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