Will Employees Drive Benefits in 2023?
Recent history has shown us that employees were a driving force behind which benefits were offered. In years prior, organizations felt little pressure to provide additional benefits such as more generous parental leave, unlimited paid time off, hybrid work opportunities, and many more. Now that offerings like these have become the new normal, organizations must re-evaluate their strategies to ensure they remain competitive in landing top talent.
A recent survey offers key insights into how employees became the driving factor in benefit offerings and whether this will continue to be accurate in 2023. Read on for the whole story.
The Effects of COVID-19 and Sick Leave
COVID-19 has been a leading factor in employers' decisions to revise their sick-leave policies, which will likely continue into 2023. A Mercer study delved into the underlying needs for continued and additional COVID leave support from companies moving into the new year.
The study found that of the 701 organizations involved in the survey, 34% still felt the impact of COVID through absences caused by the illness.
These numbers will most certainly impact how new sick leave policies are adopted. Ultimately organizations will need to decide what their policies will be and how they will handle the situation should COVID cases spike.
Despite the possibility of said spikes, Time suggests a level of optimism toward the possibility of a COVID surge this winter. They suggest that due to population immunity, omicron mutations having peaked, and the low levels of hospitalization, COVID may be less of a burden this winter.
There is, however, a level of caution needed as it is still possible for cases to spike. Not only this, but according to Yale Medicine, flu and RSV cases are surging. This opens the door for a crossroads of three significant viruses that could easily overwhelm hospitals around the country.
Sick leave is a benefit that organizations may look to when considering what benefit options to include in the 2023 year. While each organization will be different, it seems likely that employees will once again impact the benefit plans based on demand for COVID leave options.
The Impact of The Great Resignation
The “Great Resignation,” a term coined by Professor Anthony Klotz, an organizational psychologist at Texas A&M University, describes the ongoing labor trend of record-breaking monthly resignation rates in the US economy.
Beginning in early 2021, the BLS has reported an all-time high “quits rate” for five different months of the year—March, April, August, September, and November—with near-records for the months in between.
This phenomenon has put unusual pressure on organizations to provide more robust employee benefits. Organizations will again audit their benefits offerings for the coming year to ensure they are competitive and continue attracting and retaining top talent.
Another area where employees are dictating benefits is in healthcare and, more specifically, reproductive and child care.
Working parents have long needed more substantial benefits to support their lifestyle. Many organizations have offered perks related to this, such as a few weeks of paid leave, but these have yet to be fully realized and cemented into benefits packages. Some organizations are beginning to offer more extensive parental leave policies as a part of their benefits package. An example would be 12 weeks of paid parental leave accessible to mothers and fathers. These policies can be a huge draw to those looking to have children at some point in their professional careers.
Some larger organizations may even offer childcare services or assistance in finding it. childcare can be costly and difficult to find. Childcare.gov has an entire page dedicated to parents who have trouble finding care. And unsurprisingly, they suggest joining every waitlist you can that you believe could be a good fit for you and your family.
Reproductive care will also be a concern. With legal changes affecting state laws, many women will look to organizations offering travel reimbursement for medical treatment or, more specifically, abortions. These benefits may also cause inevitable compliance repercussions if not handled correctly. In terms of employment compliance, organizations must pay close attention to the requirements of the ACA, ERISA, HIPAA, and COBRA. Specifically, it’s essential to understand how each of these could shape travel reimbursement benefits surrounding abortion.
For example, according to ACA and ERISA regulations, the best approach to remaining compliant may be to offer taxable reimbursements for travel expenses.
Mercer did find that around half of those surveyed claimed they would not be offering travel reimbursements for the sake of abortions. However, 36% of surveyees said they expanded their offerings as a direct result of the Dobbs supreme court decision.
While there are many factors to consider in this study, it remains clear that many organizations are basing their benefits decisions on employee expectations.
Organizations should keep this information in mind as they prepare for open enrollment and hiring strategies in the new year. It is critical that they understand the current market and what is ultimately driving it. Staying informed will help keep the organization one step ahead of the competition entering 2023.
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