- As new trends emerge in the workplace — from flexible work to health care changes — HR is struggling to keep up, according to new research from Standard Insurance Company.
- Of the survey's 501 respondents, 38% said they are ready to support remote workers and only 16% said they are ready for part-time employees and gig workers. The unpreparedness extended to other emerging issues as well: few said they're ready to support family and elder care issues and drug addiction.
- "HR managers are constantly juggling long-term planning with daily program oversight and responding to urgent requests which can leave little time to assess and respond to employee health trends affecting the leave and disability space,” said Melissa Oliver-Janiak, HR director of benefits at The Standard, in a statement. But HR must make time, said Jung Ryu, National Accounts practice leader: "Comprehensive support programs are the most cost-effective way for employers to address employees' health needs. Unless they're willing to lose valuable talent, employers can't afford to sleep on this."
Employers able to remain agile and respond to shifts in employee needs will be in a good position in the war for talent, as Ryu notes.
Flexible work options, especially those that allow employees to fulfill their caregiving needs, remain high on workers' wish lists. And the ability to support those dealing with drug addiction may prove necessary as the opioid crisis continues to keep many out of the workforce.
But as the research shows, making time to address these issues and adopt programs is difficult for HR professionals who also are coping with day-to-day operations. Still, HR's strategic role is expanding and leaders will have to find a way to reduce administrative tasks. More are leaning on technology to do the heavy lifting, while others have turned to outsourcing. In fact, the global multi-process HR outsourcing market will enjoy significant growth in the coming years, exceeding $5 billion in 2020, the Everest Group predicted earlier this year. Similarly, employers are increasingly outsourcing leave administration; roughly half of large employers do so, according to the Disability Management Employer Coalition. Moreover, more than 80% of the organization's survey respondents consider their programs to be co-sourced — up from 48% last year.