Fewer than half of employees (49 per cent) felt they received good support from their employers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report by insurance broker Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) released on 11 January.
This is despite a majority (69 per cent) of employers surveyed have increased their benefit spend considerably during the pandemic. In addition, only 55 per cent say they have received the right support at the right time, suggesting that there is a disconnect between what companies are doing to support employees and how those employees perceive the support.
MMB also said that in general, it found that companies with a broader benefits offering tended to have happier, more loyal and productive workforces, with 34 per cent of respondents more likely to stay with a company that offers strong mental health provisions in place.
Digital healthcare has been embraced more rapidly by younger employees
In addition, the report found that employees are now embracing digital healthcare following the technology’s rapid adoption during the coronavirus pandemic. Of those employees surveyed who had used virtual healthcare services, 72 per cent intend to keep using them in future.
However, support for technological innovations in this area varied noticeably according to generation, with 30 per cent of generation X and millennial respondents (born between 1965-1996) saying that remote access was important, compared with just 22 per cent of baby boomers (1946-1964) agreeing.
“Our report shows what employees want and expect from their employers and provides tailored insights and recommendations on what employers should do to meet the evolving needs of their workforce,” said Chris Bailey, Partner and MMB Leader UK and Ireland. “Moving forward, employers are encouraged to consider embedding digital offerings within their benefits plans as attitudes are now more accepting towards digital healthcare and we expect this to continue in future.”
Women and LGBTQ+ employees have a greater demand for mental health support
However, MMB found that demand for particular benefits was found to vary substantially according to the demographics of employees.
While 36 per cent of women valued services to support mental health issues, only 29 per cent of men said the same. Women were also less likely to say that their employer supported their home-office environment at (16 per cent), compared 24 per cent of men.
Similarly, while almost half (49 per cent) of LGBTQ+ employees said they highly value support with mental health, resilience, and personal relationship concerns, only 38 per cent of non-LGBTQ+ employees felt the same.
A third of ethnic minority employees said they valued training to manage pressure
A third (33 per cent) of ethnic minority employees surveyed also said that they valued tools to help build skills such as mindfulness and resilience, to better cope with pressure – however, only 17 per cent of those surveyed said that they felt their employer ‘cares a great deal’ about their health and wellbeing.
MMB also found that low earners and those with part-time roles are also the least likely to have access to benefits, despite tending to need the most support and help.
Bailey added: “Employers are trusted and increasingly expected to support their employees. Business leaders should take into account that every employee is different and provide choice and flexibility to truly meet the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce. Our findings demonstrate the clear return on investment for firms that get their benefits offerings right, and the worrying consequences for those that do not.”