Q1 2023

42 | Q1 2023 Making Economics More Empathetic With the recent developments in our economy upon emerging from the pandemic, many companies, big or small, have started to struggle. Whether it be with how to handle your finances and benefit plans for their employees, or how to establish a workplace that caters to everyone’s best interests, you may feel as though you’re unable to progress. In times like this, it can be difficult to connect with the entirety of your employee base, which could eventually lead to a downward spiral within your workforce. Here, we take a closer look at how Mercer Marsh Benefits believes employers can advance the quality of their workspace to benefit both themselves and their employees. The Power of Benefits During Difficult Times Companies can help employees during this cost-of-living crisis by ensuring that their benefits package meets their needs. But how can a company understand what is right for its employees? The cost-of-living crisis has focused employees on securing their financial, physical, and emotional health and wellbeing more than ever before. But many SMEs are seeing their margins being squeezed due to inflation, meaning some cannot afford to pay salary increases or bonuses. So, what can companies do that will not cost them the earth to ensure they keep working productively, and do not lose them to competitors? Many of Mercer Marsh Benefits’ clients are considering how to make their employees’ benefits work better for them. Securing the correct culture to engage staff and make them feel valued has never been more important, and benefits are a fundamental part of that. Retention challenges Retention is a problem that employers urgently need to address. In its new study, Mercer’s Inside Employees’ Minds, Mercer Marsh Benefits found that those most at risk of leaving their employers are blue-collar employees, employees in the food service, retail and hospitality industries; employees working in fully remote arrangements; and employees from some minority groups. Worryingly, two in five people are considering leaving their employer. This could be down to mental fatigue and burnout from employees’ tough workloads, or insufficient pay, which becomes a problem when companies cannot increase salaries. Replacing employees will cost you more in the current environment, and you may struggle to hire people who are just as experienced. Companies now need to step up their efforts on retention, align themselves to the needs of their workforce, and focus on health and wellbeing challenges. Health and wellbeing strategies also need to consider new mental health challenges due to the impact of the pandemic and the financial climate, and consider how their workforce has changed as a result. In the last year, half of employees enjoyed working from home and having more time with family, all whilst also taking up new hobbies. However, the other 50% were negatively affected, possibly as a by-product of falling into debt, or adopting bad habits such as unhealthy eating. Before the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis, Mercer Marsh Benefits found that the biggest gaps in benefits packages were typically in financial wellbeing. But it is now noticing a multitude of companies trying to catch up with financial education and support. The Four Pillars of Wellbeing When reviewing your benefits offering, it is important to think about the four pillars of wellbeing, which are all intrinsically linked. The first is physical, which concerns the condition of your body and links to fitness and health levels. The second pillar is mental, which relates to out psychological and emotional condition and how we handle stress. The third social pillar affects the ability to form meaningful relationships and sense of belonging. And, financial is the fourth pillar, the relationship with money. If an employee is struggling in any one of these four pillars of wellbeing, this could act as a trigger for a downward spiral in their health, which is why it’s crucial to have a benefits package that can support employees across all four pillars. Addressing Disparity Across Incomes One problem that companies face is that they have structured compensation packages to attract and retain senior management, but have focused less on lower earners. SMEs often offer private medical insurance only to senior management as a retention and recruitment tool, which results in other employees missing out on access to fast and efficient healthcare and other important support services. Even though lower earners and part-timers need at least the same level of support, they often do not have important insurance, healthcare, mental Jan23723