The COVID-19 pandemic has overturned the entire global economy and everybody’s daily lives. Causing a significant disruption to workplaces, the pandemic has forced employers and employees to make and adapt to quick changes in their personal and occupational lives. Undoubtedly, many of these changes will impact the workplace for years in the future. While many reports have been published revealing the impact of the pandemic on employee wellbeing and economic effects, little has been said about the challenges faced by employers.
To study the pandemic’s impact on employers, Transamerica Institute and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies came together and conducted a survey. On behalf of Transamerica Institute, the online survey was conducted with 1,903 employers and decision-makers by The Harris Poll from November 18 to December 20, 2020. Employers across all company sizes i.e., small, medium, and large companies, participated in the survey.
Wellbeing Study Outcomes for the Pandemic’s Impact on Employers
According to the study, most employers have been negatively affected by the pandemic. While many have implemented various cost-cutting measures that affected their workforce, many had other concerns about employee wellbeing and safety.
Almost 7 in 10 employers were affected by the pandemic
Almost 70% of employers were negatively impacted by the pandemic. While 23% were severely impacted, 47% said they were somewhat affected. Only 1 in 5 employers were not really affected and a trivial 10% said the pandemic had no impact on their business. Although businesses of all sizes faced a stir because of the pandemic, smaller companies (24%) were slightly more affected, followed by the larger companies (22%) and mid-size organizations (16%).
Employers Implemented Cost-Cutting Measures
By late 2020, almost 54% of employers implemented some kind of cost-cutting measures in their workplace. Compared to small-sized companies (49%), larger companies (74%) and mid-size businesses had implemented one or more cost-cutting measures. A few most common measures include –
- Downsizing – 19%
- No bonuses – 18%
- Froze or reduced salaries – 14%
Felt Responsible for Employee Wellbeing
Most employers felt responsible for the health and wellbeing of their workforce. While some felt highly responsible, a few felt were somewhat liable.
- 82% – Felt responsible to help with various health and wellbeing aspects of the workforce
- 81% – to support employee mental health
- 80% – to help achieve work-life balance
- 74% – to maintain long-term employee health and wellbeing
- 65% – to help with a secure financial future
Concerned About Employee Physical Health
The physical health of many employees and dependents had gone for a toss during the pandemic. This affected the healthcare costs, absenteeism, and overall productivity. And so, physical health was of utmost concern for most employers. Almost 82% of the respondents were concerned about their workforce’s health and wellbeing. While 45% were highly concerned, 37% were somewhat bothered. 90% of large-sized companies and 84% of mid-size companies were more concerned about their employee physical health compared to small organizations (80%).
Concerned About Employee Mental Health
Many studies have reported a decline in employee mental health during the pandemic, which reflected poor productivity, low engagement, and other health issues. Almost 78% of employers cited employee mental health as a major concern, with 44% being highly concerned. Compared to medium (79%) and small (77%) sized companies, 90% of large companies were more concerned about employee mental wellbeing.
The key mental health concerns included –
- Anxiety – 45%
- Extreme stress – 42%
- Depression – 36%
Almost 59% of employers cited employee mental wellbeing issues had a negative influence on the company. The commonly cited negative impacts were –
- 44% – loss of productivity
- 24% – absenteeism
- 20% – flawed workplace culture
- 19% – higher turnover rates
How Employers are Supporting Employee Health and Wellbeing?
Compared to 88% of small-sized companies, 98% of large and medium-sized businesses each were more likely to support their workforce during tough times. Overall, almost 90% of all employers implemented some kind of employee support system.
- 59% – offered flexible work hours
- 53% – remote working options
- 43% – safety measures for on-site workers
- 24% – emergency paid leave
- 22% – access to mental health support
In addition to these measures, many employers also planned on facilitating the vaccination drives. Around 89% of large companies and 77% of medium-sized companies were more likely to implement COVID-19 vaccination policies or practices, compared to 52% of smaller organizations. While 36% planned on mandating the vaccination requirement, 29% educated the workforce about vaccinations, and 25% were ready to provide paid leaves to get vaccinated.
The pandemic brought many challenges and uncertainties of high magnitudes. While it was daunting for employees and employers, they have managed to get over it by making some difficult decisions. Employers have risen to new heights to support their employee wellbeing and workplace culture with suitable corporate wellness programs, workplace benefits, and other strategies.