The Great Resignation

What do workers really want?

Benefits One Jack Duvernay Headshot

Jack Duvernay is one of Louisiana’s leading employee benefits professionals with nearly 20 years of experience. Specializing in both small and large group employee benefits, Jack advises clients on all aspects of benefits selection, administration, managing open enrollment, employee education, and providing benefits and labor law compliance support.

A mid the economic panic of 2020, workers were unwilling to sacrifice job security for a new work environment. Many workers felt it was foolish to re-enter the job market during this crisis. However, in 2021, employers from nearly every industry have experienced unprecedented resignations and turnover known as “The Great Resignation.” The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that a record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September alone.

Turnover is expensive: recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training new hires is costly and when an employee leaves, the company not only loses a valuable resource but also must re-distribute duties to other team members until a replacement is hired and trained. Unnecessary and excess turnover can have a ripple effect on operations and morale.

Employers are always looking for ways to attract and retain talented employees.

For any job offer, salary will be a crucial factor, but benefits play a vital role in overall employee compensation. So, what are some of the top benefits employees are looking for right now?

• Health Insurance
This staple benefit is of the utmost importance to job candidates and typically includes coverage for their families. In fact, 46% of U.S. adults said health insurance was the either the deciding factor or a positive influence in choosing their current job, and 56% said that employer-sponsored health coverage is a key factor in deciding to stay in their current job.

• Retirement
The most common type of employer-sponsored retirement plan is the 401(k). These plans allow both employees and employers to make tax-deductible contributions to employees’ accounts and, as such can be the most efficient way to supplement employee salaries.

• Disability
Employers can offer short-term disability (STD) or long-term disability (LTD) insurance to their employees. If an employee is unable to work due to illness or injury, these plans can replace lost income while employees are out.

• Life Insurance
Life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment insurance (AD&D) are important as employees look to the future and want reassurance in protecting their families.

Employers should also consider some less traditional benefits that have become increasingly popular. These “perks” can be offered in addition to the employee’s salary and benefits package and may sway an employee to value one employer over another. Some of the most valued perks in 2022 are:

• Mental Health Resources
Wellbeing and mental health have taken on a new significance during the pandemic. 48% of employees indicated they have experienced elevated levels of stress and are looking for support. Employers can offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which helps employees solve problems – including those related to finances or other non-work stresses. But employers are also offering more comprehensive mental health services such behavioral telehealth. Behavioral telehealth allows employees to access care from their homes with more options for safety, privacy and convenience.

• Paid Leave
Shockingly, 32 million U.S. workers do not get paid sick days. Employees need to unplug and recharge. Offering paid sick days and paid vacation days is an easy place to start for drastically improving the lives of your staff.

• Flexibility/Remote Work Options
Remote work and flexibility have always been popular among employees, but their importance soared during the pandemic. Flexibility has been a key factor in providing for employees who have had changes in their life such as caring for a chronically ill loved one or those who suddenly had virtual school for their children. In fact, 76% of workers said they would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.

• Family Leave/Child care
This past year has served as a reminder that employees’ lives do not just revolve around work. With pets and children crashing our Zoom calls, and other responsibilities – including eldercare and childcare – on worker’s minds, it is evident that employees have other responsibilities and priorities that distract us from work. During the pandemic, one in four women considered leaving the workforce or scaled back their work role because of added family caregiving pressures.

Employees want their employers to recognize and care for them so as we navigate this strange new world, smart business leaders should take the time to regularly ask their employees for feedback. The best leaders will also find a way to act on this feedback. Offering valuable benefits and meaningful perks will be a key driver in retaining and acquiring incredible talent amid “The Great Resignation.”