As millions of U.S. employees voluntarily resign and employers scramble to find workers, a new survey suggests employee health strategy may be a key to keeping workers at work. Among those thinking about changing jobs, better benefits (38 percent), better health care (36 percent) as well as work/life balance (36 percent), were three of the top four reasons they were considering a change. More money was the No. 1 reason, at 50 percent.
“2022 Health at Work,” a report from Quest Diagnostics sheds light on the unprecedented employer-employee dynamics taking shape in a competitive labor market — and the unique challenges employers face to deliver quality, cost-effective health benefits that meet the heightened demands of workers. The report is unique for engaging employers and employees to uncover points of agreement and disconnect, based on a survey of 423 human resources benefits managers and executives with decision-making authority (HREs) and 846 office workers (employees) at companies with 100 workers or more.
Among the findings:
- Two-thirds of employees (66 percent) say they are thinking about changing jobs next year or have begun or recently completed a job change.
- More than 3 in 4 (78 percent) of human resources leaders say their organization has been impacted by the “Great Resignation”
- 90 percent believe they will have to improve benefit packages and increase wages
- More than seven in ten (72 percent) HREs say it is likely there will be a recession that will impact hiring in the next year.
Health Insurance – Among the key findings, there was strong agreement – 87 percent of HREs and 89 percent of employees – that health insurance is too expensive, and the pandemic’s effects on health will drive costs even higher. While large majorities believe companies should pay for most health care costs, more than a third of employees (35 percent) and almost half of HREs (46 percent) say employees need to pay more. Costs loom large for a substantial majority of HREs, who appreciate the financial burden of health care costs borne by employees. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of HREs want to lower these costs but say they don’t have the tools they need to do that. In fact, 63 percent feel “overwhelmed about making the best choices for our employees.”
Chronic Conditions Rival COVID-19 as a Top Concern – Throughout the worst of the pandemic, more than half (56 percent) of HREs had to manage sick workers, implement safety policies and manage hybrid/remote work transitions, among other challenges. Now, the prospect that employees are beset by other illnesses is a point of concern for HREs. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) express worry their employees may be sick with chronic illnesses because they haven’t had wellness checks during the pandemic.
The report also suggests that employers increasingly are prioritizing mental health, with 84 percent of HREs expressing concern about their employees’ mental health, nearly the same proportion, 85 percent, who express concern about employees’ physical health.
Health Screening Programs – Employee health screening is seen as a must-have benefit to be an employer of choice, even by those who question its ability to lower medical costs. Ninety percent of HREs and 89 percent of employees believe that health screening programs are essential for a company to be considered an employer of choice that attracts and keeps talent – despite more than 68 percent of both groups questioning if these programs lower medical costs. The survey findings also suggest that at-home screenings and telehealth can expand access to health care. Eighty-seven percent of both groups are comfortable with at-home biometric testing, and 76 percent of employees said if they could do it at-home they would have more screenings. However, 66 percent of HREs and 74 percent of employees believe that such measures can only complement, but not replace, in-person screenings.