Employers are adapting their workplaces to meet changing workforce expectations and regulatory requirements. How have human resources managers aligned benefit and HR programs to meet new or changing business needs? How Do Employers Approach Return to the Office? With an increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting talented employees, how do organizations attract and retain talent? And how do employers pivot to advance diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives?
The recent virtual conference, Elevate, presented by Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark, hosted a panel of human resources managers to answer these questions and more. Guests included:
- Paul Garrier – Vice President Global Total Rewards Operations, PepsiCo
- Misty Hambright – Senior Manager, Benefits Strategy, American Airlines
- Michelle Hay – Global Director of Human Resources, Sedgwick
Adapt to the requirements of the vaccination mandate
As employers await the fate of the vaccination mandate by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, many have already invested significant time and energy in encouraging workers to get vaccinated. PepsiCo offered incentives to those who choose to be vaccinated and made it easier for employees to get vaccinated. However, we are reluctant to demand vaccination in an increasingly tight labor market because it could alienate certain groups. Employers focus on worker safety, but also try to effectively balance their messages on requirements.
Other employers have moved to a fully remote work environment and have yet to address the vaccine requirement. To keep their employees safe, Sedgwick has postponed their return to the office until 2022. They are also focusing on recruitment and retention efforts, leading to more reluctance to require vaccination.
Reassess the needs of workers in the “Great Resignation”
The term âbig resignationâ has come to describe the continued phenomenon of employees quitting their jobs after reassessing their employers throughout the pandemic. The record loss of workers has forced employers to reassess the needs of their workforce, with particular emphasis on benefits and flexibility. Although this is a dynamic problem, employers need to look at it from the perspective of their employees.
While PepsiCo hasn’t seen a mass exodus like other employers, they have been sensitive to the additional pressures on their workers from the pandemic to ongoing social unrest. They focused on providing support and evolving their employee’s value proposition while digitizing their benefits experience to engage their staff.
When assessing their attrition trends, Sedgwick found a higher loss of workers employed less than a year. These employees may feel less connected to their colleagues or managers without a face-to-face connection and find it easier to leave work. Sedgwick made up for these losses by rethinking their onboarding, taking into account the virtual nature of the job, with a focus on building new employee contributions and confidence in the first few months. They also equip their personnel managers to speak with employees more frequently. Empowering their employees to know what benefits are available to them and how to take advantage of them has also been essential.
Airlines have been particularly affected throughout the pandemic when travel has been restricted or discouraged. American Airlines has seen its capacity drop by 40 to 50%, forcing severance packages or extended leave. Now, with a return to travel, they have felt the effects of the labor shortage. Where free standby travel was sufficient to recruit individuals, they had to expand the benefits considerably. A redesigned web experience, extended maternity and disability leaves, gender dysphoria benefits, and the expansion of gender reassignment benefits have all been key in recruiting efforts. They also maintained these public benefits as a recruiting tool and educational tool for employees and managers.
Support the under-represented
People of color (POC), LGBTQ + people, and women are those hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic. Fears about occupational health and safety, career advancement, isolation and mental health have raised concerns for these minority groups. Interactions with different colleagues were essential in reducing bias, which was not easy with working remotely. Women have also faced increased household responsibilities throughout the pandemic and have seen their representation drop by 57%.
As visibility and influence within organizations have increased for minority groups, employers should still focus on their representation. PepsiCo has sought to expand its representation in organizational management roles while strengthening its efforts in supporting minority-owned businesses and community impacts. They encouraged their trading partners to follow suit and prioritize this issue.
Social capital is a set of shared values ââthat enable individuals to work together to achieve a goal effectively. This concept is essential in an inclusive work environment and in the way work is done. Employers should equip managers to understand this idea and how it affects minority groups while also having resources and mentors for these people.
Social media brand management
All organizations have a brand to represent, and the proliferation of social media has made protecting that brand more difficult than ever. Organizations should have a plan to proactively and directly respond to their mentions on social media. This plan should include reframing how they connect with their audience and creating a different mindset to anticipate potential issues.
Social media can have its pitfalls, but it is essential in bridging the gap between the trade mark and the job brand. Glassdoor recently said that 79% of job seekers use social media when performing a job search, with over 84% of organizations recruiting through the platforms. In today’s labor shortage environment, social media can be particularly important for recruitment and retention.
Thinking outside of the traditional benefits strategy has become a necessity with increased demands from employees. American Airlines has responded to the challenge by expanding retail healthcare benefits, recently pivoting its pharmacy benefits manager to CVS. With this integration, employees experienced minimal disruption to their pharmacy program and benefited from a more holistic approach to their health.
American Airlines has also sought to allay concerns about health care costs after retirement. When they were forced to reduce their staff at the height of the pandemic, part of the early departure packages offered reimbursement terms for retiree health care. Proving to be invaluable, the company incorporated this offering into its 2022 health plan, allowing employees to receive company account credits over the years using preventive health measures.
The future of work
If the pandemic has proven the need for anything, it’s flexible and hybrid work environments. Some employers will move from employee-managed schedules to a minimum requirement of office work days. Returning to a work environment is essential for dynamic collaboration and the development of a mentor, but balancing it with working remotely is equally crucial for recruitment and retention.
View the archived recording of this session here.
Kimberly George ([emailÂ protected]) is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, Mergers and Acquisitions and Healthcare at Sedgwick. Mark the walls ([emailÂ protected]) is Vice President of Communications and Strategic Analysis at National security. Together, they welcome the “Ideas up front“Educational series. Follow @outfrontideas on Twitter and Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark on LinkedIn for more information on upcoming events and webinars.