The level of volatility in the workplace hasn’t slowed in the last two years. The labor shortage, the largest quit rates in history, and the highest inflation levels in decades have all combined to make for another challenging year.
Here are some of the trends business leaders are seeing and how they are evolving their businesses to meet employee expectations.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness
Diversity, equity, and inclusiveness (DEI) are more than just buzzwords and executives are finding out they need to do more than just talk about it. Employees are demanding fair and equitable treatment in the workplace, especially when it comes to salaries.
This has created challenges in ways employers didn’t expect. For example, many companies are paying a sign-on bonus or increasing wages to attract new employees. Current employees wonder why they aren’t getting the same bonus for staying with their employer or why their wages are now lower than what companies are offering.
As companies offer incentives, flexible arrangements, or financial considerations for families with children, employees without children are asking why aren’t they getting the same perks?
The labor shortage and increased demand for qualified workers have given way to higher wages.
Average pay jumped 4.7% in 2021, according to a U.S. Department of Labor report, with the average wage now slightly more than $31 per hour. While employers increased pay to attract and retain their workforce, it’s unfortunately been offset by inflation. The Consumer Price Index rose 7.9% in February compared to a year ago.
Even with increased wages, employees lost ground due to rising prices.
Flexibility in Hours
A survey of 10,000 knowledge workers in the Wall Street Journal reported that 95% of employees surveyed want flexible hours. 78% said they want flexibility in the location where they work.
While more companies are adopting flexible and hybrid work arrangements, not every employer can offer that. Some are trying four-day workweeks instead. A Gallup poll shows that 5% of US workers are now working four days instead of five. They’re working the total amount of hours but getting three days off instead of two.
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) has gone even further, introducing the 32-Hour Workweek Act in the House of Representatives.
We’ve all had to deal with additional stressors at work over the past few years and it’s taken a toll. 86% of employers surveyed by employment consultant WTW reported mental health, stress, and burnout are still a top priority for their employees.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 40% of companies have improved their wellness, mental, or behavioral health benefits, adding coverage for telemedicine and employee assistance programs, increasing the number of in-network providers, or reducing copays. The 2021 Employer-Sponsored Health & Well-being Survey reported that 92% of companies surveyed had expanded stress management, sleep improvement, resilience, and mental health programs.
Many companies have also revised leave options, child care support, and financial planning to their benefits package.
Have you made changes within the past year to help support your employees in new or different ways? Share your ideas in the comments.