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Workers have put their—and their families’—wellness at the top of the list when evaluating current or future employers for their business and benefits environments. Through the DE&I lens, “wellness” covers each individual’s unique personal and professional needs. For companies to succeed and compete, the support they provide their workforce must address a myriad of concerns and themes that are different for every employee: fostering a diverse workforce, equitable compensation and development, a true commitment to work-life balance and mental wellbeing, a clear position on climate change and other sustainability issues, and more.
The impact of these initiatives is clear. Fostering a more inclusive and equitable environment can have a direct impact on recruiting and retaining top talent. ADP’s annual People at Work Study for 2022 showed that 76% of employees would consider seeking new employment if they discovered an unfair gender pay gap or lack of a DE&I plan at their company.1
As with all company-wide initiatives, success hinges on senior leadership buy-in as the primary driver and practical example. It is their responsibility to establish short- and long-term diversity goals, expectations and incentives for management and the company as a whole.
Some notable examples of benchmarks in use across Goldman Sachs Ayco’s corporate partners include:
The findings of a 2021 survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services bear out the impact of leadership’s DE&I “heavy lifting” on workforce engagement. It showed a direct correlation between companies that develop and implement a thoughtful, meaningful DE&I strategy and an increase in team diversity, employee engagement and the ability to recruit top talent. In the study, establishing metrics for tracking progress was a key driver in success.2
From health benefits to work hour flexibility—physical, mental and financial wellness issues were at the top of Pew’s research into the factors behind the “Great Resignation.”3 What are some of the underlying concerns that are driving the employee wellness conversation?
Cash flow and debt management
Income inequality and college debt are just two segments of an overall cycle that feeds into many Americans’ personal financial crises. We’re living in a time when 43% of American workers are struggling to just meet their basic needs and 41% are living paycheck to paycheck .4 Inequality creeps into the student debt formula: while the average debt is $28,950, that number is $25,000 higher for black and African American than white college graduates.5,6
Employers are responding to these needs by offering their employees tools to address their unique financial and student debt needs:
More information on these offerings, and the impact of inflation on benefits, can be found in this article.
Retirement saving may be down the priority list for employees facing difficulties keeping up with their day-to-day financial conditions, but it is crucial for long-term financial wellness. This could be one reason why only 65% of eligible workers participate in their 401(k) plan – with African American and Latino households severely lagging white households in 401(k) or IRA participation and the age at which they start saving for retirement.7
Recognizing that their employees need help getting and staying on retirement track, 80% of our corporate partners are offering automatic enrollment in their 401(k) plan, typically at the percentage needed to maximize the employer’s matching contribution.8 The impact of this benefit can’t be ignored: According to a Vanguard study, 91% of employees participate in a 401(k) plan with an automatic enrollment feature, compared to only 28% when one isn’t in place.9
Employers are also tailoring their retirement offerings to address their employees’ personal preferences, including through ESG funds. Another key feature that can boost retirement savings is auto escalation, which is an automated mechanism for employees to increase their contribution rate each year.
The pandemic shined a light for all employers and employees on the importance of a caregiving safety net when a family member requires long-term personal attention. With flexibility in general and for caregiving specifically, companies can help provide the space for every individual to have their needs met. Offering the opportunity for employees to set their own schedule to work around care needs or take additional paid leave without fear of financial consequences can improve loyalty and retention.
We’ve also seen 130% growth from 2020-2022 in companies we partner with who provide child and elder care assistance. When regular care is unavailable for an employee’s loved one, these programs provide care assistance through a database of fully vetted caregivers.10 Typically, they offer employees a fixed number of days per year (10–15 days on average). To meet diverse needs, it’s important the care can be provided either in-home or at a care center.
Another benefit that companies can provide is a dependent care FSA (DCFSA), a type of account that allows employees to save pre-tax dollars for dependent care expenses throughout the year. Currently, a very small number of our partners also provide an employer contribution to employee DCFSAs.
Family planning benefits
The medical and financial challenges for couples who require assistance in starting a family can often be physically taxing and emotionally overwhelming.
And no matter how a couple adds to their family, they have to balance new caregiving with the demands of their jobs. These are some ways that companies are assisting couples with family planning:
A Gallup poll released in February 2022 found that the number of adults in the U.S. who identify as something other than heterosexual doubled from 3.5 percent in 2012 to 7.1%, with younger U.S. adults much more likely to identify as LGBTQ than older generations.15 Unfortunately, despite this growth the LGBTQ community struggles with issues navigating the healthcare industry. More than 40% of the LGBTQ community reported they have experienced discrimination by a healthcare provider, which has, in turn, led to mistrust and an avoidance of care. LGBTQ individuals are 2-3 times more likely to avoid care than straight and cisgendered individuals.16
There’s a common misconception that inclusive benefits will dramatically drive up healthcare costs; however, many employers reported an overall increase of only 3.5% from implementing partner benefits and minimal increases related to transgender-inclusive benefits.17 A full 91 percent of the Fortune 500 have gender identity protections enumerated in their nondiscrimination policies (up from 3 percent in 2002).18
Typical benefits in this space include:
For more additional information on this topic, read Benefits for the LGBTQ community: What does it mean to be inclusive?
We serve as an extension of our corporate partners’ HR teams to help employees maximize the value of benefits and compensation. Contact us to learn more.
Updated for tax year 2022