Four in five (80 per cent) Canadian employers believe they have the appropriate programs and practices in place to support employees’ mental, physical, emotional and financial well-being as they return to the workplace and settle into a new normal, according to a new survey by Mercer Canada.
The survey, which examined Canadian organizations’ preparedness for returning to work, also found 75 per cent of respondents believe they currently have workplace-related policies and practices that address the health, safety and wellness issues of the new normal.
These numbers contrast with the 89 per cent of employers that said they’re aware of what’s required to enable their employees to return to the workplace and have an understanding of the challenges employees may face, as well as the 99 per cent of companies that said they’ve successfully and quickly met changing customer and client needs.
“Organizations have much greater confidence in their ability and plans to address operational and business aspects of the transition, rather than their ability to mitigate current and future talent risks,” said Mercer Canada.
Looking at the state of Canadian organizations, nearly a third reported being hard hit by the pandemic: 27 per cent said they’re finding themselves challenged to maintain business continuity and three per cent said they’re struggling to survive. However, more than half (56 per cent) reported stable revenues and 20 per cent said their revenues have grown during the crisis.
Companies that have been forced to make cuts have tended to rely on hiring freezes (46 per cent), freezing or reducing employees’ salaries and bonuses (30 per cent) and implementing rotational working schedules (28 per cent). More than a quarter (27 per cent) said they’ve laid off employees or offered voluntary leaves of absences, while 22 per cent have furloughed some employees.
Two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents said they’re investing or plan to invest in ensuring the well-being of their workforce in both the short and long term, while 51 per cent said they’re reviewing their strategies to further manage benefits costs.
When asked about prioritizing new programs, employers’ top choices were flexible work (37 per cent) and mental health and wellness programs (30 per cent), followed by digital wellness offerings such as telemedicine (28 per cent), a wellness or health-care spending account (20 per cent) and financial wellness programs (14 per cent).
“Elements of the employee value proposition must be refreshed and evaluated frequently, especially in times of unprecedented change,” said the consulting firm. “New ways of working have challenged the employee experience and organizations must invest in and prioritize elements . . . that will enable flexibility and an effective transition to the new normal, especially for critical talent and key roles. A compelling employee experience will serve as the differentiator between organizations that maintain productivity with thriving employees (even during times of uncertainty) and those that are challenged to maintain performance.”
The survey suggested employers use the transition to optimize their costs and plan their workforce requirements, make sure their employee value proposition is relevant and support middle managers and top talent.