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Three Methods Healthcare Employers Can Construct Worker Resilience

Although the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States is declining, employers should be aware that employees’ desire to feel safe, protected, and cared for is persistent. (Photo: Shutterstock)

It’s no secret that health care workers were among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Seemingly overnight, these workers found that their job descriptions had shifted from being a healthcare professional to being a frontline worker tasked with handling the onslaught of an unprecedented disease.

A new report from MetLife’s 19th annual U.S. study of performance trends, which aims to quantify the impact of the pandemic on these employees, found that only 59% of healthcare workers feel mentally healthy, compared with 68% of those employed from other sectors. As a result, only 67% of healthcare workers say they feel engaged at work (up from 78% in April 2020) and only 73% say they are productive at work most of the time (up from 80% in April 2020) . .

Related: 3 Rules One Should Break For Better Mental Health At Work

This decline in the wellbeing of healthcare workers is a concern for employers – not only because unhealthy workers lead to a lack of loyalty, but also because it directly affects patient care. In fact, the MetLife report found that healthcare organizations lacking committed employees were five times more likely to have high turnover among their employees and more than twice as likely to have unsatisfied customers / patients.

Given the events of the past year and an uncertain post-pandemic world, it is more important than ever for employers to provide a supportive culture, including benefits that build resilience among their employees.

Here are three ways healthcare employers can improve the holistic wellbeing and resilience of their employees:

1. Restoring the financial health of health workers

The MetLife report found that there is a significant discrepancy between health care workers’ assessments of financial health relative to the rest of the workforce. Only half of healthcare workers have confidence in their finances, compared to 59% of all workers. Additionally, 85% say finances are one of the biggest sources of stress. Ironically, the top financial concerns for 70% of health care workers are health care costs, including concerns about the affordability of retirement health care and concerns about cost of medical care not being covered by insurance.

Healthcare employers can address these concerns through tailored financial wellness programs that are tailored to their employees’ individual pain points. For example, MetLife’s study found that the majority of healthcare workers say they want an FSA (flexible spending account) and access to financial wellness benefits. In addition to these essential benefits, employers should also look for fringe benefits like HSAs (health savings accounts), health and accident insurance, which 61% of health care workers say will help them limit their medical out-of-pocket costs.

2. Ensure security and protection

Although the number of COVID-19 cases in the US has decreased thanks to vaccination efforts, employers should be aware that employees’ desire to feel safe, protected, and cared for remains. MetLife’s study found that 72% of healthcare workers say their personal safety and wellbeing are extremely important to them – and 51% expect their employers to meet these needs. Even so, two in five say their employer doesn’t offer any services or programs to support or improve their wellbeing during the pandemic, while one in three states that their employer offers support but could do more.

Evidence shows that employers that have taken employee security into account through benefits such as life insurance or serious illness insurance that cover work-related causes have come out on top to make their employees feel financially secure. In fact, employers who say they have increased their focus on performance over the course of the pandemic are 37% more likely to say their company’s employees are holistically doing well. By focusing on improving and maintaining employee wellbeing, employers are likely to see increases in the productivity and engagement of their employees, which in turn can lead to improved patient care.

3. Strengthening the communication of benefits

Employer communication is an integral part of the performance process – half of healthcare workers want to be better informed about their performance so they can get more out of them. However, the MetLife report found that 39% of employees found their benefits communications difficult to understand.

Improving performance communication can only benefit employers, as 64% of healthcare workers are more likely to say they are committed to their organization’s goals when they understand their benefits. In addition, many workers are more likely to trust their employer’s leadership if they understand the benefits. To reach their employees, employers should use the digital tools available to them – including email, which 38% of employees believe is the primary way to learn about their benefits.

Ultimately, employers who not only identify their employees’ vulnerabilities but also address them through services and programs that help restore their holistic wellbeing are key to creating a more sustainable framework in the healthcare industry. Healthcare workers who report that their employer offers a range of services that meet their personal and household needs are 30% more likely to be resilient. In order to improve the wellbeing of their employees and make their company future-proof, employers must focus more than ever on the changing needs of their workforce – on aspects such as security, protection and flexibility.

Missy Plohr-Memming is Senior Vice President, National Account Sales, at MetLife.

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