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How to calibrate employee benefits to boost workforce performance

Find out how employers can calibrate employee benefits to boost workforce health and productivity and improve talent attraction and retention.
Happy colleagues discussing concepts

Amid the war for talent and macroeconomic challenges, employers in Asia are at a crossroads. How do they tackle rising stress levels and meet the diverse needs of their workforce with cost-efficient employee benefits and solutions? The latest Mercer Marsh Benefits Health on Demand 2023 report provides insights that serve as a roadmap to effectively calibrate their talent attraction and retention strategies, and boost workforce health and productivity performance.

Addressing key stressors to foster psychological safety

Notably, the report found that 44% of employees in Asia report feeling stressed daily. Work pressures, poor leadership, job security, toxic culture, and inflexibility in work schedules or location top the list of key stressors.

Mindful that expectations and values vary across a diverse, multi-generational workforce, employers wanting to alleviate key stressors should look at the common underlying causes. Often, this involves reviewing job design and elevating supervisor competencies with a focus on leadership training. The goal is to foster psychological safety in the workplace, characterised by clearly defined team values and behaviours, a culture of belonging, and inclusive decision-making.

Easing caregiving burdens with targeted benefits

With the burden on the sandwiched generation increasing, employers must ensure that their benefits plan provides adequate support to the unique needs of caregivers. In the MMB Health on Demand report, more than one in three (37%) caregivers reported that their medical expenses have caused financial hardship for them or their family, which is more than double that of non-caregivers (15%).

To address the burden on employees who are caregivers, employers can look into expanding benefits to cover caregiving resources. This support can extend from providing comprehensive health insurance to caregiving benefits like emergency elder care and paid time off for family care needs, as well as time-saving benefits such as flexibility at work.

Doubling down on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

An inclusive health and benefits strategy focusing on delivering total well-being, goes a long way towards meeting diversity, equity and inclusion goals. An important aspect of DEI is women’s health. In particular, employers in Asia should seek to improve their benefits offering in this regard, as only 30% of employers in the region provide targeted benefits, which can include fertility and menopause support, contraception coverage, and preventative screening for female-specific cancers.

Employers can also assess how to develop a DEI-centric health and benefits strategy by ‘flipping the benefits pyramid’, which involves reviewing the viability, applicability, accessibility of benefits across demographics and income levels, while evaluating how best to develop a more inclusive health and benefits strategy to support the whole workforce. Solutions might include expanding onsite health services or offering savings plans and digital financial solutions.

Being there for employees in times of crisis

In some Asia countries, there is scepticism among employees regarding their employers’ willingness to be supportive in times of need; in Singapore, only 58% of employees believe their employers will support them in crises and emergency situations.

The lack of rapport underscores the need for employers to establish robust support systems, and demonstrate their presence and support in times of need, which can take the form of meaningful benefits that address emergencies such as physical crises (e.g. floods, fires, and health emergencies), as well as during economic crises (e.g. recessions, high inflation). As we adapt to remote and hybrid working, these benefits serve as crucial foundations of trust and support between employers and employees.

Meaningful employee benefits: the guidepost for the operational and financial success of your organisation

In this challenging macroeconomic climate, investment in employee benefits makes a significant difference, and plays a key role in supplementing traditional compensation, making the investment in talent recruitment and retention more sustainable.

Importantly, employers must go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits, and consider factors such as life stages, family status, economic needs, and responsibilities outside of work when designing their benefit plans. 

Ultimately, meaningfully calibrated employee benefits programs are no longer just an attempt to differentiate the employee value proposition — they have become an operational necessity. A well-conceived and well-communicated benefits plan serves as a vital employee support system, and a starting point to achieve lasting improvements in health and productivity for your organisation.

Contact an MMB representative today to unleash the potential of your workforce, reduce absenteeism, and build a healthier, happier environment for all.