Turning the tide on The Great Resignation

5 ways to use benefits to retain skilled workers

January 14, 2022
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Many employers are looking for smart, creative ways to use benefits and flexible scheduling in an effort to turn the tide on record high turnover rates, a national trend known as The Great Resignation. 

Why use benefits to counter The Great Resignation? 

Benefits contribute to workers’ sense of financial security and help them feel their employers care about their wellbeing. And because workers are facing more challenges today than before the pandemic, they are also paying more attention to their benefits.In our recent report, Benefits education in today’s workforce, 66% of workers who were satisfied with their benefits said they were more likely to stay at their job.   
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A record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November 2021 with the highest turnover in hospitality, health care and social assistance. Transportation, warehousing and facilities had the next highest departure rates.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor, Job Openings and Labor Turnover, 2021.

When adding or expanding benefit offerings, employers should make sure they have a good understanding of their workers’ diverse needs and what motivates them, such as their basic demographics, life stages and cultural influences. Otherwise, you might be adding benefits that workers don’t really care about. It’s essential to talk to your employees to find out what they want and need, explained Michelle McLaughlin White, VP of Client Management at Colonial Life.

“Ask your employees, what are your challenges?” said McLaughlin White. “What keeps you up at night? And then provide benefits that meet those needs.”

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94% of employees said their needs were considered when their employer sought their feedback on their benefits.

Considering the stress workers are facing, turning the tide on The Great Resignation isn’t easy. Here are five smart, versatile benefits that employers can use to address employees’ real problems and quality of life concerns. 

Flexible scheduling and remote work

More businesses are offering permanent flexible scheduling, remote work and hybrid approaches to their workers. Given that so many parents, particularly mothers, are struggling with childcare and family caregiving responsibilities, flexible scheduling options are overwhelmingly popular. While flexible scheduling isn’t a magic bullet, it can empower workers to deal with the logistics of taking care of their families.

For many workers, a remote or hybrid approach can be just as desirable as a pay raise because they save so much time from commuting. Remote options have also become normalized since the pandemic, so businesses that continue these options permanently will naturally seem more progressive in caring about their workers’ overall wellbeing.  

Increasing paid time off

Workers ranked generous paid time off (PTO) and paid family leave as their top two most desired benefits besides insurance.1 Workers want to use that time off for a variety of reasons. And employers that provide generous and flexible PTO and paid family leave are going to be better positioned to minimize their turnover compared to their competitors. 

Top 3 benefits after insurance1

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Generous paid time off
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Paid family leave
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Flexible schedule or remote work 

Benefit banks with versatile options 

Setting up a benefits bank with a fixed contribution amount for each employee they can use toward benefits of their choice is another popular option. The versatility of benefit banks empowers workers to make selections that best meet their life stages and motivations.

For example, an employer may set up a benefits bank for $1,000. An employee may choose to put $250 toward an accident policy to cover children and put another portion of the $1,000 toward their child’s college savings plan. Another employee who is interested in retirement and disability will use the $1,000 bank to pay premiums for disability coverage and toward the "401(k)" plan.

Offering a benefits bank sends a strong message that your business is serious about modernizing your benefits and cares about their wellbeing.

Mental health and wellbeing

Mental health and wellbeing benefits have taken on a new importance as the ongoing and fluid nature of the pandemic has taken a toll on workers throughout the country. Employees who can tap into professional mental health therapy through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) without any out-of-pocket expenses are more likely to use their benefits. And in the long run, they are likely to be more resilient. 
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Nearly 60% of workers said they had financial stress or hardship from the pandemic, and 42% are concerned about their mental health.1

Telehealth, personal health advocate 

Telehealth and personal health advocate benefits are two more benefits that can help push back on mass numbers of employees quitting. For workers also juggling children and a job, telehealth can provide convenient 24/7 access to doctors through a secure phone app for common ailments for themselves and their families. For parents with school children, telehealth can be a huge help in saving time in trips to the pediatrician’s office or to Urgent Care or the ER after hours.

Navigating complicated health care problems and medical bills can be daunting, especially during these complex times. Having access to a personal health advocate benefit is like having a nurse in the family. They can provide their health care expertise to your workers to locate health care providers, review medical bills and answer questions they may have about their care. For many workers, a personal health advocate takes major financial and medical worries off their shoulders. 

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About two-thirds of employees who were satisfied with their benefits reported being more likely to stay at their job, more likely to recommend their employer and more productive.

Source: Colonial Life, Employee Survey, company sponsored 2021. 1,462 U.S. full-time employees responded to the survey in August 2021.

Benefits in the big picture of The Great Resignation 

At some point most people stop and re-evaluate their lives and careers. Often this means trying new things and making life changing decisions in their career. That’s called being human, explained Mclaughlin White.

"The pandemic caused everyone to reassess and reevaluate their lives at the same time,” said McLaughlin White. “As employers, we know that some employees will decide they need a change in their life and will move on to a different job regardless of our retention efforts. But for the rest, it’s our responsibility to make sure they feel valued, heard and supported. And an essential part of that is staying competitive with modern, thoughtful benefits that meet their needs.”

For more survey findings and key HR insights, read the report, Benefits education in today’s workforce.

1. Colonial Life, Employee Survey, company sponsored, 2021. 1,462 U.S. full-time employees responded to the survey in August 2021.

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