The Great Resignation forced employers to focus on how they can improve healthcare benefits to retain talent, but employers and employees have differing opinions on healthcare coverage.
As the Great Resignation sweeps across the US, employers and their human resource teams are often misaligned with employees regarding health insurance coverage and the role healthcare benefits play in employees staying at a company, according to a report commissioned by Quest Diagnostics.
“While there has been significant attention on low pay, lack of flexibility, and disrespect at work as main reasons driving the ‘Great Resignation,’ our findings suggest employee health programs play a major role as well,” said Jay G. Wohlgemuth, MD, senior vice president of R&D and Medical and chief medical officer at Quest Diagnostics.
“Employers are taking extraordinary measures to attract and retain talent, and healthcare benefits, access and affordability are areas of focus they can’t afford to overlook to compete for workers.”
The report involved a survey of 423 human resources benefits managers as well as company decision-makers and 846 employees at businesses with 100 employees or more. Quest Diagnostics itself is a large company with almost 50,000 employees.
According to employees, healthcare and health insurance ranked fourth-highest among the most popular way that employers can attract and retain talent. However, for human resource professionals, healthcare and health insurance were tied with perks, benefits, and incentives for fifth place.
This is significant because employees and human resource professionals were fairly aligned on the top two priorities that employers should keep in mind to retain and attract talent: compensation and flexibility.
But when it came to healthcare and health insurance coverage, there was a 42 percent relative difference between employee and human resource experts’ responses.
Human resource experts and employees also disagreed on who should make up for the high cost of health insurance.
Most employees (89 percent) and most human resource professionals (87 percent) were concerned about potential healthcare cost increases in 2022 and most human resource professionals (90 percent) and employees (88 percent) agreed that employers should take control of healthcare costs.
Only a little more than a third of employees (35 percent) stated that employees should pay the larger share of their healthcare costs. In contrast, 46 percent of human resources said that employees should shoulder the larger share.
Breaking those statistics down further, it was clear that lower management was less supportive of employees taking on more healthcare costs than higher management.
More than half of senior management human resource experts and 42 percent of senior employees agreed with employees taking on more healthcare spending, compared to 36 percent of middle management human resource experts and merely 28 percent of middle management employees.
Human resources experts felt ill-equipped to lower costs for employees, even when they agreed that employee healthcare spending should be lower.
That being said, large contingents of human resources experts and employees also stated that employers need to pay the larger share of employee healthcare costs.
While human resources experts were most cognizant of medical coverage, paid sick leave, pharmacy benefits, and mental healthcare coverage, employees were most aware of healthcare benefits like medical coverage, dental coverage, paid sick leave, and vision coverage.
Most employees and human resources experts considered health screenings and wellness programs as essential benefits, despite widespread doubts about these programs’ abilities to produce cost savings. This dichotomy was most prevalent among senior management for both human resources experts and employee managers.
“Our report highlights the strategic importance of employer-based healthcare strategies that deliver comprehensive mental and physical health benefits,” Cecilia K. McKenney, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Quest Diagnostics.
“Many colleagues are struggling amid the unprecedented healthcare and economic crises caused by COVID-19. By promoting access to interventions that improve mental health, employers not only help at-risk colleagues navigate challenging personal and socioeconomic dynamics—they also elevate their organizations as employers-of-choice.”