More than half (57%) of small business employees have expressed concern over their mental wellbeing. This was the finding of a report by MetLife, providers of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs.
Adapting to Workforce Transformation
MetLife’s ‘How Small Businesses Can Adapt to Workforce Transformation’ report looks at how the dynamics of the work-life environment are changing. The 19th annual US Employee Benefit Trends Study explores the perspectives of small business employers and employees in order to provide insight into evolving needs and priorities of workforces.
The study was conducted in December 2020 and January 2021. It comprises of 2,500 interviews with the decision-makers of small businesses and 2,651 interviews with employees of small businesses.
Concerns Over Mental Health
One of the most striking statistics unveiled by the report is that 57% of employees are concerned for their mental health. Concurrently, three-quarters of employers say that employee resilience is important to business recovery.
With workers citing mental health concerns and employers recognizing the importance of employee resilience, the research highlights the need for small business employers to proactively value their employees. One way to ensure employees feel valued is to provide them with benefits that go beyond basic offerings.
As the authors of the report note: “As employees look to their employer for greater support in lessening stressors and improving their holistic wellbeing, and small business employers take on the challenges of attracting and retaining the workforce they need, employee benefits can play a pivotal role.”
What Type of Benefits do Employees Prioritize?
The research investigated the type of benefits employees prioritize. The leading benefit employees of small businesses rank is health insurance, with 78% citing it as a ‘must have’ benefit. 70% of the employee participants said retirement plan should be a must have benefit, while 62% say it should be paid/unpaid leave.
58% of employees of small businesses believe dental and vision should be the leading benefit provided by an employer.
Disability, critical illness and health savings were also raised as leading benefit requirements among employees. As were flex spending accounts, hospital indemnity and financial wellness, with around 35% of the survey’s participants flagging them as major benefits.
Steps Employers Can Take to Improve Wellbeing Among Employees
In response to the findings of the report, which confirms that when it comes to employee wellbeing, small businesses would be wise to provide employees with benefits to help improve wellbeing, MetLife uncovered five small steps small business employers can take.
These steps include offering review programs and benefits to optimize opportunities to improve employees’ holistic wellbeing.
Employers should also access opportunities to offer increased flexibility to employees. Options should be explored to enhance benefit offering by adding voluntary benefits that enable employees to address their individual situations, and to mitigate stress and increase financial security.
Adopting an Employee-Centric Approach to Benefits
MetLife also advises employers to apply an employee-centric approach to enhance benefit strategies and communications. Highlighting how traditional and non-traditional benefits work together, will mean small business employers are in a better position to address diverse employee needs and challenges.
Employers should actively communicate the value of benefits regularly throughout the year, not just during annual enrolment and appraisals, to help drive employee awareness, MetLife recommends.