Human resources safeguard physical and mental staff welfare by developing important policies around sick days, doctor’s appointments, and extenuating circumstances. As work continues to gain complexity, there are three aspects of staff welfare that will keep most HR departments occupied for the months to come: health insurance and retirement plans, vacation and PTO policies, and wellness and EAP initiatives.
1. Health insurance and retirement plans are more complicated
Many countries have their own national health insurance and retirement savings plans to ensure employee financial security over the long term. For example: a large portion of Singaporean PRs and workers are eligible for CPF and MediShield contributions.
But what happens as companies begin to hire outside of the country? Foreign employees may not be able to enjoy the same degree of support from employers: they often have to procure their own local insurance policies. They may also miss out on tax-free retirement contributions that they would have earned by working for a more local business.
As the workforce becomes more global and distributed, employers will need to think about how they can provide a fair level of support to workers, no matter where they are.
2. Vacation and Paid Time Off (PTO) policies might go away
In the past, employees were often given a fixed number of vacation or PTO days to consume within a given period. But with flexible and remote arrangements, it can be difficult to measure or enforce designated working days versus vacation time.
If an employee wants to travel to France for two weeks to work while sightseeing, should that be considered a holiday?
In the past, an employee who wanted to leave the office at noon for sickness might have needed to file a leave of absence. But is there any reason to do that if they are working from home or from a coffee shop?
As a result of these changes to the way humans work, many companies have chosen to step away from clock-counting, time-tracking, and formal PTO. They’ve switched to flexible vacation and PTO policies instead, allowing employees to design their working days around personal needs and idiosyncrasies.
3. Wellness Programs are becoming more popular
Wellness programs are a relatively new addition to the HR toolkit, and as a result, there is no set definition for what wellness programs should include. These programs can include fitness classes, health screenings, and other services that promote well-being.
Some other examples that have been pursued by many organizations:
- An employee assistance program (EAP) which provides confidential counseling services for employees who are struggling with personal or work-related issues. This can be an invaluable resource for employees who are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.
- Healthy food options in the office kitchen or canteen, or even a lunch stipend. This gives employees the energy they need to power through their workday.
- Regular team building activities such as group fitness classes or social events outside of or during work hours. This helps employees to bond with their colleagues and feel more connected to their company.
The workforce is becoming much more diverse, and HR departments have their work cut out for them. The sooner employers begin thinking about these aspects of staff welfare, the more attractive they will become to potential employees.