Strong competition to attract and retain talent will drive employers to adopt holistic employee wellness strategies in 2020, according to the Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc.’s global workforce predictions for the year.

“We have these war for talent issues going on everywhere,” says Joyce Maroney, executive director at the Workforce Institute. “One of the ways we’re seeing companies seek to differentiate themselves — especially in developed countries — is to look at what they can do to help employees with their work-life balance, stress reduction [and more].”

The institute predicts employers will increasingly adopt or expand existing programs around mental health, financial wellness and literacy and flexible working. Specifically for U.S. employers, it expects to see movement in programs around childcare.

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This shift is driven largely by millennial and generation Z workers who Maroney says “are placing a higher priority on their wellness, their work-life balance, their ability to have a life at home,” compared to their generation X and baby boomer colleagues.

“All of these things coming together suggest that organizations that seek to support their employees in having a fully rounded and healthy life, that will be an element that can be a competitive advantage.”

Younger workers are increasingly taking advantage of mental-health support, says Maroney, referring to a previously published Workforce Institute survey that found 34 per cent of generation Z said anxiety is their biggest barrier to workplace success.

Read: Generation Z wants supportive managers, flexible work hours: survey

She suggested employers make sure staff are aware of existing mental-health resources and benefits, like counselling through an employee assistance program.

Financial wellness programs, such as cash contributions for paying down student debt, debt consolidation services and even basic financial literacy programs, will also be welcomed by younger employees, says Maroney.

The institute expects to see more employers embrace flexible working arrangements and make related adjustments to their processes, including reducing the use of face-time as a way to measure employee value. “It’s [about] thinking about what does the work really require,” says Maroney.

Read: My Take: Making it work, four days a week

As for flexibility and leave, the institute predicts modernizing and regulating paid time off, family leave and income stability will be “hot button issues” in the U.S., especially during an election year.

It also said it expects employers will be increasingly tasked with addressing “controversial and potentially divisive dynamics in the workplace.” The employers that will succeed in maintaining a strong corporate culture are those that formalize diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, noted the institute.

On the talent front, employers are expected to broaden the pool of potential workers to consider veterans, people with disabilities, retirees, gig or contract workers, second-chance workers and candidates with tangentially relevant skills to find the right fit. More employers will also support existing employees through re-skilling and multi-skilling, the institute said.

Read: 80% of Canadian employers concerned about retaining talent: survey

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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